We are so thankful for your profession because nurses give life.
This past winter break, I had the opportunity to travel to Kingston, Jamaica on my very first international mission trip. Although I have been to the Caribbean before, I was especially excited to learn about nursing in another country and observe the similarities and differences to practices in the United States.
We spent the majority of our trip working along side the brothers of Missionaries of the Poor. Missionaries of the Poor, founded in 1981 by Father Richard Ho Lung, is an international Roman Catholic order of brothers dedicated to serving destitute and abandoned children, women and men of Jamaica. The minute we arrived at the shelter, we automatically felt the positive spirits of the residents. We were immediately greeted with handshakes, hugs, and many smiling faces.
I have especially been interested in pediatric care throughout my nursing school journey. Therefore, I was able to spend much of my time at the “Bethlehem Center” caring for children ranging from ages 1 to 22 years old. Many of the children are living with conditions such as cerebral palsy and asthma. While at the center, we had the opportunity to administer albuterol treatments, perform full body assessments on children and therefore refer those especially in critical conditions to the local hospital, as well as assist the brothers with activities of daily living such as changing and feeding the children. The children’s favorite part of the days was when we were able to take them outside to sing, dance, blow bubbles, and play with each other. I admired the beautiful spirits of the children because even though many of them had been abandoned by their families and lived with such life altering conditions, they were still children who enjoyed the simple things in life like singing and dancing.
Towards the end of our trip, we visited Kingston Public Hospital (KHP) where we compared and contrast the different aspects at hand in Jamaica’s healthcare system. While touring the hospital we spoke with many nurses to gain more insight into the everyday life as a nurse at KPH. Similar to the US, the nurses expressed that understaffing was a huge barrier they face every day. In addition, overcrowding often adds another obstacle for them to overcome. However, what I most admired about many of the nurses was their optimism. They may not have the same resources as the US, but they’re commitment and passion to care for patients as best they could were absolutely inspiring.
Not only was I able to experience the beautiful country of Jamaica, but also I was able to meet, hug, smile and laugh with dozens of beautiful people who all continued to fuel my passion to be a nurse.
Anika, a current BSN student and BUNDLE scholar is hopeful to continue embracing the public and global health in her future nursing aspirations. Her interests include acute and chronic conditions within the pediatric population and plans to work in underserved populations in the near future.