The life of a graduate nursing student is busy. It is so busy that one might not expect students to think about anything besides getting through their clinicals and classes without collapsing in exhaustion. Yet, for one week this October, four graduate students from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) paused to look outside of their studies and East Baltimore. The group traveled to a remote part of Haiti as volunteers, offering vital medical care to over 1,000 patients.
School of Nursing faculty member Elizabeth “Beth” Sloand, PhD, CRNP, a veteran of numerous trips to provide clinical assistance and student experiences, organized the trip and encouraged students who were eligible to participate. Four graduate nurse practitioner students—Katherine Philips, Kearstyn Leu, Lea Marineau, and Tresa Schumann—joined the multidisciplinary team with faculty members Phyllis Mason, MS, RN, CANP, and Shawna Mudd, DNP, CRNP, three physicians and other professionals. Through funding from a private donor and contributions from the participants themselves, the volunteers left October 15 for Leon, a small village about one hour away from the coastal city of Jérémie in southwest Haiti.
During their week in Haiti, the students faced the reality that “the resources were incredibly limited there,” said Lea Marineau. While much relief work has been done since the January 2010 earthquake wreaked havoc in south-central Haiti, many Haitians still lack good medical care and other necessities. After setting up the small amount of equipment they had brought from Baltimore to supplement the clinic’s basic supplies, the volunteers offered primary care to members of the local community. In some cases, the group provided emergency care, as well. By giving their time and skills to the residents of Leon, the students also gained valuable clinical practice. Marineau described the work as “definitely the best clinical experience I have ever had. It was eye opening to experience first hand their health care system and living conditions.”