Jean Garcia Davis, BS '08, RN
Through Their Eyes
As an undergraduate, Jeane Garcia Davis, RN '08, studied chemistry and planned to become a physician. But along the way, she decided she wanted to work more with people. So when her parents assumed she was applying to medical schools, Davis applied to the Peace Corps instead.
In Malawi, Davis was initially placed as a teacher, but she ended up starting an afterschool community girls' club. At first, she focused on women's health, mainly answering the girls' questions about their bodies. Then, because communities weren't talking about HIV, the group's focus shifted to HIV prevention. But education wasn't always enough: one girl, whom Davis had grown close to, died of complications related to the virus.
Davis also saw firsthand that the village had few medical resources. When her friend came down with malaria, Davis visited her at the local district health center. Because the hospital had only one patient bed, all of the other patients were spread out on the floor. The hospital staff also didn't have enough HIV antiretrovirals to treat everyone who had the virus.
"I remember feeling like I needed more information, skills, and resources to really be able to help people meet certain needs," she says.
So in 2008, a few years after returning to the U.S., Davis received her bachelor's degree in nursing through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing's Peace Corps Fellows Program. After graduation, she focused on end-of-life care as a staff nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at The George Washington University Hospital. But she quickly returned to Hopkins: that same year, Davis enrolled part time in the School of Nursing's Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Public Health (MSN/MPH) program.
Through Hopkins, Davis has had invaluable—and challenging—opportunities to work on public health issues in the field. As an undergraduate, for example, she screened and counseled patients being tested for HIV at the Chase-Brexton Clinic. Many patients were scared of testing, but Davis learned how to talk to them about sensitive issues, from negotiating using condoms in a relationship to domestic violence. Today, she draws on these same counseling techniques as an on-call forensic nurse providing comprehensive nursing care to victims of sexual assault.
Yet, Davis says some of her best experiences were in the classroom, learning from students and faculty at the School of Nursing, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine. "Whether you want to focus on global health or domestic health, or you have a specific population focus, you have someone who can be a potential mentor here," she says. "If you love interdisciplinary teamwork, innovative leaders, and hands-on collaboration in public health, [Hopkins] is the place to be."