Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Different Experiences, but Still Equal

Rob Swan, RN returned from his volunteer trip to Hue, Vietnam with Good Samaritan Medical Dental.  Rob helped teach a multi-module trauma and emergency medicine course to Vietnamese nurses of all specialties who are interested in moving into emergency medicine.  Below is Rob's account of his experiences while in Vietnam:

"We were welcomed with bright smiles by the coordinators of the 2012 Emergency Nursing Medical Conference in Hue, Vietnam.  After much ceremony we were introduced to our translators, some of our students and the classrooms where we'd spend the next week teaching.  The facilities were spartan, but functional, with working fans to circulate the dense tropical air.  Each day, I taught three labs of anywhere from 10 to 15 people each on trauma assessment and head to toe assessment while other RNs from the US taught courses in cardiology, pediatric emergencies, neurology, central and peripheral lines etc.  Every group was unique and it was a challenge to find the balance between cultural sensitivity and encouraging the students to actively engage in the material.  Our students were bachelors trained RNs who had volunteered to take time out of a busy schedule of work and family duties to share in the exchange of knowledge.  Some groups were quiet and reserved and others shouted out answers before I could even ask the question.  On the last day of training our translator took over and taught the last class.  My lab partner and I were emotionally moved to see her give our presentation, with her own style and subtleties.  Our Vietnamese is limited to only a few phrases but we could still easily follow along with her and were so humbled and simultaneously proud to have been a part of her life and learning experience.   
We had the opportunity to tour the affiliated hospital and were enlightened to the conditions nurses work in.  One floor boasted 60 beds but those beds were shared by 90 patients.  Only two nurses were available on nights to cover the entire unit.  It was humbling to have our own experiences put into perspective in that way.  We have a different experience here in the US but are still equal in every way to the nurses of Central Vietnam in the ways that define the RN, compassion, intelligence and a love for healing the human body and spirit.  I'm so grateful for One Nurse at a Time for facilitating this experience so that I can contribute to the international RN community but also so that I can continue to grow as an RN."

Rob Swan, RN, CEN, received a BA in biology from the University of Alaska and his BSN from Creighton University.  For five years he worked as a flight nurse in Alaska and an emergency nurse at hospitals in Louisiana, Alaska and finally Seattle where he discovered One Nurse at a Time.  He is currently enrolled in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Yale University and has volunteered the past two years teaching part of a trauma course to Vietnamese nurses with the Good Samaritan Medical and Dental Ministries.  He previously spent one year in both Seoul, South Korea and Oslo, Norway as part of his military and work duties.  In his free time he wonders at the marvel that is his four year old daughter, plays hockey and fixes cars.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"A Dream Trip"

Liza Leukhardt, RN will be traveling with the organization Nurses for the Nations to India May 14-24.  Liza will be part of a group of nurses providing charitable medical care in Andra Pradesh, India.  In Liza's own words:  "This mission is a dream trip for me. Since I was a teenager, and probably before, I've fantasized about doing humanitarian work as a medical person. In my teens, when other kids were listening to rock and roll, I was listening to African folk music, and driving my mother crazy. I've been a nurse now for twenty years, and I feel that 2012 is going to be a year of huge transitions and accomplishments for me.  I'll be starting graduate school in the spring, with the goal of teaching nursing in the near future. I've been a hospice nurse for most of my career, so I know a lot about dreams, fantasies, and bucket lists. I expect this mission will be life changing for me. I've been blessed with a comfortable life and feel a need to not only broaden my perspective, but show my gratitude. I'm delighted and thrilled to have been accepted by Nurses for the Nations for this mission to the dalit, or untouchables, in India. I expect to work very hard in a tough, dirty, hot environment with people who are ill with diseases I've only read about. I expect this won't be my first mission. I'm thinking about retiring into the Peace Corps. Until then I'd like to use my skills to provide compassionate care to as many people as possible."

Liza Leukhardt decided to become a nurse 20 years ago after caring for her three year old daughter during two years of chemotherapy for childhood leukemia. Having already worked as a newspaper reporter, elementary school teacher and theater costumer, Liza views nursing more as a ministry than a career. For the past twenty years she has been a hospice nurse. Her ability to work with the dying is a gift she discovered during her daughter’s illness. Today her daughter is a robust and healthy 29 year old woman with an exceptional empathy for others in need. Liza currently works as a weekend Baylor nurse for a local home care agency while pursuing a master’s in nursing at the University of Hartford. She is a contributing writer to and her story may be found in the anthology “Nurses on the Run” edited by Karen Buley.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Different Kind of Mother's Day

We all know that being a mother is not an easy job.  Imagine being a mother in a underdeveloped country.  The obstacles they face seem insurmountable!  According to the World Health Organization, "Maternal mortality is unacceptably high. About 1000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications around the world every day".  One of the most significant ways to decrease maternal mortality is to have skilled health personnel involved in the prenatal care, present at births and continued follow up and provide care of the mother during her child bearing years.  Nurses are the ideal educators for teaching these community skilled health personnel!  Kimberly Garcia, a 2009 One Nurse Scholarship recipient, traveled to Guatemala with Refuge International to teach Guatemalan lay midwives about nursing interventions to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal death in the third world. Results of the study were published in the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing in January 2012.

Save the Children has published their annual report "State of the World's Mothers 2012" which gives an in depth look at the complexities of being a mother in different parts of the world.  It's a fascinating report and one well worth the time!

How can you help?
1.  Volunteer to teach maternal nursing to skilled health workers with organizations like Refuge International, Midwifes for Haiti, Grounds for Health or Empathy Uganda.  You can also search our Directory for more organizations that focus on Women's Health.
2.  Not able to travel overseas?  Try volunteering at a women's shelter or crisis pregnancy center locally.  These women have struggles and needs that can be addressed by those willing to reach out and care.
3.  World Vision has fantastic blog articles related to Mother's Day to read and consider sponsoring a child. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy Nurses Day!

“Nursing is much more than just holding someone's hand. 
It is mathematics, no less than construction. 
It is science, no less than a chemist. 
It is task management, no less than a CEO. 
It is research, no less than a detective. 
It is hard work, no less than manual labor. 
It is giving, caring and guidance, no less than any advisor. 
It is multi-tasking, no less than a foreman. 
It is nurturing strengths and working with the weaknesses, no less than a chaplain. It is helping others be all they can be, just like the ad for the Army. 
It is accepting that women have strengths, as well as nurturing skills. 
It is accepting that men have compassion, as well as caring skills.”
Verbatim comment from “Men in Nursing” Survey (2004)

Happy Nurses Day and Week from One Nurse At A Time!

Friday, May 4, 2012

"I am taking this layoff as an opportunity to travel to Peru"

Emily Sorman, LPN will be traveling to Cusco, Peru with the organization A Broader View. There, she will be working in a small community clinic or hospital providing basic medical care. Most indigenous people, especially the children, lack medial attention. These clinics provide necessary health care including dental check ups and immunizations free of charge.
In her own words,"I am excited to be submerged in another culture where I am
not completely comfortable. I want to understand what it is like for those who don't have access to the resources we have in The United States. I want to learn and brush up on my Spanish skills. Most importantly, I want to help others who are in need. This is my life's passion, and it is why I became a nurse. I am looking forward to applying to an LPN to RN program in the fall. Many require volunteer health care experience. I can't think of a better or more unique way to get this experience."

Emily feels fortunate to have worked for Swedish Visiting Nurse Services as a Home Health Nurse. Due to financial constraints, the company closed its doors April 27, 2012. This job meant the world to her, but she refused to let it get her down. "I am taking this layoff as an opportunity to travel to Peru and while help provide medical care in a clinic. I am grateful for this scholarship, and look forward to sharing my experience with others."

Emily Sorman graduated from nursing school in her home state of Minnesota in 2009, then worked in Hawaii for a year and a half. She moved to Seattle in 2010, and now considers it home. She will be applying for LPN to RN programs this summer. Emily volunteers regularly at my local food bank. She has also volunteered through One Brick at various events for local community and non-profit organizations.