SON students close out undergrad career with medical outreach trip and valuable experience
Before their May graduation, four Radford University nursing students joined an interprofessional team of health care providers on a medical outreach trip to underserved areas of the Dominican Republic.
The Radford team of student nurses – Julia Graham, Natalie Mitchell, Bridget Prosser and Nicole Smith – was led by Assistant Professor of Nursing Wendy Downey. They were joined by colleagues from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) as part of a 32-member team that spent seven days in April at community centers, churches and schools of Punta Cuna on the shores of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
“The students gained additional experience in clinical settings and worked with medical students for whom this was their first experience working with patients,” said Downey. “The chance to work collaboratively with other professionals in the care team and to educate our colleagues about the roles and value of nursing in the continuum of patient care is so beneficial.”
Not only were the nursing students working to fit in with their colleagues from other professions and synergize their efforts on behalf of the patients, the volunteers worked through translators from a local bilingual school.
“Medical terminology is a language of its own and our patients primarily spoke either Spanish or Creole,” said Downey. “Patients came in afraid and vulnerable. First, we wanted our nurses to minimize that and then build trust. It was interesting and challenging for all of us to ask better questions and then to assure the patients’ understanding of their treatments.”
Collaboration on a health care team ideally engages all of the members’ combined knowledge to improve patient care, said Downey.
“Our partners on this trip were outstanding. They were willing to embrace nursing as critical component of patient care and they were open to and understanding of how nursing can help in the education of medical students.”
Students from the SON have joined recent medical outreach efforts to El Salvador as well. The global health outreach is a partnership with VCOM and other regional health care educators and is coordinated for Radford by SON Assistant Professor Kemberly Campbell.
The recent Dominican medical outreach effort and recent trips to and from the Netherlands and Korea by nursing students and faculty to work interprofessionally and internationally are overseen by the SON International Committee.