The medical field is one profession that requires a sharp mind and skilled hands. What a doctor or nurse might experience while working in the United States is often completely different than in a third world country, where people have less access to quality healthcare and trained medical professionals. With this in mind, the School of Nursing at Anderson University has established a way to assist those who need help in Central America by sending senior nursing students on service trips after spring break.
Hearts to Honduras, an organization based out of Xenia, Ohio, partners with local churches to meet the needs of the people of Honduras. In recent years, Hearts to Honduras has partnered with the AU School of Nursing to bring healthcare equipment and supplies to various communities throughout Honduras. For two weeks, nursing students help doctors take care of ill patients in some of the most destitute areas of the country.
“Our students get the chance to staff clinics and help out in other capacities deemed necessary,” said Sarah Neal, RN and associate professor of nursing at AU. “A nurse practitioner accompanies them throughout the trip and the students meet the requirements a certain area may have.” [Photo on left: Senior nursing student Alison Bachtel worked with kids outside the clinic.]
“We’ve worked closely with Hearts to Honduras for five years now,” said Susan Pleninger, another associate professor of nursing and coordinator for two previous Honduras trips. “Honduras is the second poorest nation in the world, next to Haiti, so there’s always a lot of work to be done helping the sick and maintaining good health,” she added. The goal of the partnership between Hearts for Honduras and the AU School of Nursing is to give nursing students hands-on experience helping those who don’t have the means to help themselves. Additionally, it allows students to teach others how to help themselves and suggest ideas on sustainability for the overall health of poor communities.
Before leaving for the trip, senior Allison Bachtel explained how the group was preparing. “Every student on the trip has developed a research proposal and will be conducting their own research on the trip, concerning both health and culture,” she explained. The specific duties students did in addition to preparing for the trip included gathering over-the-counter supplements like vitamins and antacids to distribute among the clinics they worked with. [Photo on right: Some senior nursing students worked at a clinic in Honduras giving medicines and care.]
The students spent the first week visiting hospitals and learning about the health difficulties of the people of Honduras and the healthcare system. “There were public and private hospitals, but the public hospitals were much less comfortable than the private ones. Both provided the necessary care, but it was crazy to see the differences,” explained senior nursing student Mary Sowers.
After visiting the hospitals, the students traveled to five different clinics to help give medical care to the local people. “My favorite part of the trip was helping at the clinics. A lot of the people there don’t have regular healthcare because they don’t have the money or the transportation, so it was good to know we were really helping them.” The group helped nearly 400 patients at the clinics.
In addition to Honduras, server al nursing students had a different opportunity with assisting the elderly Jewish community of Indianapolis. The students’ journeyed to the Hooverwood Indianapolis Jewish Home where they used their skills to assist with conditions that commonly affect elderly patients as well as to learn about caring for people of another culture. [Photo on left: Senior nursing students Kelley O’Hair, Alison Bachtel and Amanda Butts played with children outside a clinic in Honduras.]
“The Jewish community experience really opened my eyes to the role religion plays in healthcare and that we need to respect other’s rights and believes when it comes caring for them,” Neal explained. Hooverwood, founded as the Jewish Shelter House in 1907, has existed primarily as a long term healthcare facility for the elderly while also serving as an educational center for students in the medical field.
— Cameron Ward is a senior from Kalamazoo, Mich., majoring in communication arts. Ward is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications. vAnderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.