Archive for March 20, 2018

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 7

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

On Friday, March 16th, we went to a nursing home in Ponce, Centro Geriatrico de la Ave. We were thrown right into work and helped the staff with the morning showers of the residents. Once all the residents were showered and dressed we took them into the dining room for breakfast.

We took blood sugars and helped feed some of the residents. After breakfast, we took most of the residents into the day room. We ambulated some patients through the facility and helped the charge nurse give out medications. Soon after we all gathered in the day room and one of the nurses played music.

We had a great time dancing and playing dominoes with the residents for a couple of hours. Gladys whipped out her guitar and some of the girls in the group sang some songs for the residents alongside her. The residents loved it and it was such a joyful time.

We then walked around the facility and turned and changed some bed ridden patients. Afterwards, we took the residents back to the dining room for lunch, again helped serve and feed them.

We had a surprise visit from one of the Puerto Rican senators, Senator Cruz, that helps out a lot with the nursing home.

After the nursing home we went back to Blankito’s for lunch. We then went to Castillo Serrallés in Ponce that was built in the 1930s for Juan Eugenio Serrallés who owned the large sugar cane factory in Ponce. We were able to tour the beautiful house and get some souvenirs.

The group ended the trip with a beautiful dinner at a local Italian fusion restaurant in Ponce Plaza and celebrated all the great experiences we had in Puerto Rico.

On Saturday morning we traveled back to San Juan from Ponce to go to the airport and landed safely back in Atlanta. I think I speak for the group in saying that the trip was really inspirational and humbling, especially to see places like the hospital that still did not have power and the nursing home. This trip not only taught us to be more culturally sensitive when providing care in our practice but also to appreciate the resources we have as nurses in the United States and how important it is to give back to the community around us and in places like Puerto Rico.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 6

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

On Thursday, March 15th, we headed to Hospital Castañer where we were welcomed and given a tour by Dr. Jose Rodriguez. The group was given a brief history of the hospital and we were able to meet with the nursing director.

This hospital is located in the mountains and serves the surrounding towns. The hospital still did not have power since Hurricane Maria hit so it was being run completely on generators.

The group had the opportunity to go through different rotations in the hospital. Pairs went to the emergency department, the inpatient facility, the clinic, the laboratory, and went on home visits with a doctor.

Most of the facilities ran very similarly to how hospitals run in the states but the home visits were very different and an interesting experience. Two of us went out with a doctor, an LPN, and a med student in a small van to different patient houses that were either too far into the mountains or the patients were bed ridden and unable to travel.

Although Spanish was a barrier for most of us to communicate with patients, we overcame it and had an amazing experience learning how hospitals are run in Puerto Rico. Tomoyo even had the opportunity to place an IV for the first time ever.

We finished the trip watching a movie about how the hospital was founded and created and toured the new emergency department that is being built currently.

After the hospital, we traveled back to Ponce and everyone took a nap in the van. The day was really amazing for the group. It was eye opening to see how a hospital is run in Puerto Rico and see the similarities and differences between care and nursing roles. It was especially interesting after learning so much from the nursing association president on Monday and then seeing what he taught is physically in the hospitals.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 5

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

Today, March 14th, the group had an amazing day at the Salvation Army. The corps organized for us to present a variety of health topics to a regular group of older adults. The director introduced all of us and a couple of the group members led the room in different songs to start the morning.

We then proceeded to teach the group in pairs about nutrition and diabetes, how to do self-breast exams, Alzheimer’s disease, and hypertension and smoking cessation. A few of us were able to speak to the crowd in Spanish but for the most part Gladys translated what we presented in English to the group and helped us answer the audience’s questions.

The adults were very engaged and interested in our topics. After the presentations, we led different stations for each topic. At one station we took blood pressures, at another we took blood sugars, we did breast exams, and we continued the conversation about Alzheimer’s.

They were very grateful for us and it was so rewarding to teach them about health and wellness. Once everyone had been assessed the corps fed us another amazing lunch of churrasco con arroz and grandules, and guineitos en escabeche. The group then headed back to the hotel for an afternoon off. We, the students, decided to go souvenir shopping and secretly go to a local bakery where we picked up some pastries to celebrate Dr. Zhang’s birthday at dinner! We ate at a local pizza place for dinner and of course got ice cream again.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 4

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

For our fourth day in Puerto Rico, the group had quite the adventure. We started off going to a local Salvation Army store in Ponce where we fed and took blood pressures of some homeless people. We got the chance to practice some Spanish medical terms and worked on communication with the local people. We served 96 people that morning. Afterwards we went to National University College and met with nursing students. We had the opportunity to mingle with them and hear about their program and Dr. Zhang gave a lecture on NCLEX questions and how to prepare for it.

Next, we ventured to the main Salvation Army building in Ponce where they cooked us lunch, our favorite meal so far this trip, chicken with gandules and arroz. We then went back to the hotel to rest for a couple hours before heading out on the major adventure of the day, street medicine. The group piled in the van and we traveled to Cayey, Puerto Rico to meet people from the organization Initiative Comunidad (IC). On the way, we stopped for dinner at beautiful restaurant, Pastelillos, on the ocean where we ate some interesting paradillas. These were 12-inch-long empanada-type foods that were stuffed with chicken, beef, conch, shrimp, cheese, and the best of all… shark. The views were beautiful and the group had a wonderful time looking at the water and sitting on the beach. Of course, we took lots of pictures.

After dinner, we ventured further to Cayey. On the way, we stopped and purchased sandwich making supplies to feed the homeless with IC. We made our way to the group leader’s house where we then made sandwiches and hygiene kits to hand out. Once all the supplies were ready we headed back out on our van following behind the group leader’s car to different places where IC meets different homeless people. The goal of the experience was to feed and talk to these people in order to establish a relationship and help them out. We went to five or six different areas in Cayey and Cidra and fed them the sandwiches, coffee, juice, and a delicious soup. It was a wonderful experience to see these people and how they live and most significantly hear their stories. We finally headed back to Ponce around 1 a.m. and went straight to bed for our early morning on Wednesday at the Salvation Army Health Fair.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 3

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

Today, March 12th, we learned all about the healthcare system and the role of nurses in Puerto Rico. We began the day at the Salvation Army in Ponce. We gathered in the dining hall where we were welcomed by lovely table settings, cold water, and freshly made coffee that the director provided for us. Our first presentation of the morning was from Sr. David Espinet, president capitulo de Ponce, the president of the Ponce chapter of the Puerto Rican nurse’s association. He talked to us all about the different types and roles of nurses here as well as the different degrees a nurse can receive from universities. It was very interesting for the group to learn about the differences and similarities of the healthcare system here versus in the mainland United States when it comes to the profession of nursing. The most shocking thing that we learned was that a single nurse on a unit may have up to 20-25 patients at one time that they are responsible for. Crazy to compare to the 4-5 patients that a nurse cares for in the mainland United States.

After Sr. Espinet’s presentation we got to hear from the director of the Salvation Army in Ponce who told us about the history of the Salvation Army in Ponce and more about the programs and activities that the Salvation Army runs. She then guided us on a tour of the beautiful facility.

Afterwards, the group went to a fun lunch at a restaurant called Bankitos, where we ate burritos, quesadillas, and taco salads. Once our stomachs had settled and we debriefed the morning we were off to our next location, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico (PUCPR), the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. There we met some lively nursing students and had the privilege of swapping information about our programs and learn about the life of a Puerto Rican nursing student. It was amazing to hear how passionate and enthusiastic the group was about the nursing profession. The greatest part of the day however, was when one of our students, Lauren Duncan, asked them to salsa dance for her. Two students jumped up began to dance and proceeded to teach Lauren as well. Soon the whole group, PUCPR students and Emory students broke out into dance, teaching each other and became submersed in laughter and amusement.

Once the dancing settled down and the group finished trading stories we were given a tour of their nursing school. We soon learned that their education is not very different from ours. Their simulation labs have similar, if not the same, manikins as we have at Emory, and we saw a student participating in a “check-off” exam for a skill just like we do. We quickly learned that the Puerto Rican students actually have many English textbooks and that all of their equipment and medicine is in English. But, they have to additionally know everything in Spanish so that they can explain things to their patients. We were amazed at their intelligence and how simple they thought it was even though they are learning nursing and medicine in two languages.

We ended the day with a wonderful dinner at Fusión, an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant, and then again with some delicious local ice cream. Tomorrow we are starting off the day feeding the homeless of Ponce and meeting another group of nursing students at an additional university.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Days 1 & 2

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico around 3 o’clock yesterday the 10th and immediately headed off in our van to Ponce where we are staying and spending most of our time. All 11 of us squished into this large van with our luggage and the group lit up with excitement. Everyone ooo’d and aww’d at the beautiful mountains and sighed at the evident damage from hurricane Maria. Our first stop was Raítes a delicious restaurant where Gladys, our trusty Puerto Rico native, pre-ordered us monfongo with shrimp and flan, Tres Leches, and guava with white cheese for dessert.

After dinner, we headed to Ponce. Even in the dark we were amazed at how beautiful the city was. We were all exhausted from traveling and went straight to bed.

In the morning of the 11th, we had a great breakfast in the hotel and then explored the city center of Ponce.

We then headed off to the boardwalk in Ponce where we got to do some souvenir shopping and eat some delicious authentic Puerto Rican food. And possibly the highlight of the day, feeding fish and pelicans sardines by the dock.

Afterwards we headed to a fair in Salinas where the national guard is stationed. There we got to meet Gladys’s son, Ricadro, and listen to some live salsa music and again do some shopping. We ended the day with a great dinner at the hotel and some ice cream from a local shop. And to cap it all off, we happened upon the municipal orchestra playing a set in the street in front of the capital building.

We are grateful to enjoy some site seeing for our first two days but are eager and excited to get to work and learn about the healthcare system in Puerto Rico tomorrow.

School of Nursing students earn honors at Annual Pride Awards 2018

Tara Noorani, left, and Sasha Cohen at the Annual Pride Awards 2018 held at the Miller-Ward Alumni House on Feb. 28.


Two Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing students were recognized Wednesday, February 28, at the Annual Pride Awards 2018 held the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Sasha Cohen was presented the Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award and Tara Noorani was presented the Fierce Leadership Award. The peer-nominated Pride Awards recognize the great work many people do behind the scenes to advance LGBT equality.

Learn more about our student winners in the following Q and A.

Sasha Cohen: Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award

Sasha Cohen

Home town: Gloucester, MA
Major: AMSN, FNP
Graduation date: December 2019

How does it feel to have won the Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award?

It feels amazing to be recognized by Emory for my work with the transgender community but more importantly it is an honor to be able to advocate for my community in spaces where they are underrepresented.

What are some of the specific things you have accomplished at Emory and/or the SON that you feel contributed to you earning this award?

Since the beginning of my AMSN program, I have been fiercely advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics to increase understanding of the unique social and health care needs of this population. I have advocated to individual professors as well as SON leadership to increase LGBT content. Through these efforts I have had the opportunity to present lectures on caring for gender expansive youth in both the undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition, I have engaged faculty and students on the subject of transgender rights and created a community space for open dialogue about LGBT health in many classes, where previously there had been none. I have joined the research team, LGBT Gen2, a collaboration between students and faculty, to increase knowledge of the needs of this understudied population. As a member of the Dean’s Executive Student Council I have had the opportunity to work closely with Dean McCauley to strategize about diversity and inclusion and the SON and improve the experience of diverse students in nursing. I also work at the Office of LGBT Life, which has given me the opportunity to interact with gender non-conforming undergraduate students, which has been a wonderful experience.

Choose one or two of these accomplishments and elaborate on what positive outcomes were created.

I have noticed many changes that have come as a result of my advocacy and that of my fellow students. The most wide spread change I have noticed is that people are generally more inclusive of LGBTQ+ populations in our classes and on campus.  The faculty, staff, and leadership at the SON have been very receptive to conversations about equity and inclusion and many classes have begun to discuss caring and reducing health disparities for the LGBTQ+ population.

Why is it important for you to be an Outstanding Transgender Advocate?

As someone who identifies as transgender I often don’t have a choice but to advocate for myself in many areas of life. I am privileged to be able to create space for myself and other transgender people in arenas that we have been historically been shut out of and I do so on behalf of the many members of my community who experience disproportionately high rates of violence, poverty and discrimination. It is my hope that advocating for the transgender community during my time at Emory will help to foster a culture of affirmation among my nursing school colleagues in caring for this population, who desperately need trans-competent healthcare providers.

What are your career aspirations? Do you plan to seek more education or begin working after graduation?

I am passionate about providing my LGBTQ+ community with empathetic and affirming care as a Nurse Practitioner. This career path necessitates the ability to lead with vision and clarity in order to forge new paths in transgender medicine. I am committed to continuing the work I have begun at Emory to advocate for marginalized communities and work towards health equity for all.

What made you choose to pursue nursing?

As a non-binary transgender person, my interest in pursuing a career in advanced practice nursing is both personal and professional. As a medical assistant working at an LGBTQ+ FQHC in Oakland, CA I saw how crucial the NP role is in making sure that patients feel seen, heard and cared for and knew that role would be the best fit for my interests and passions.

Tara Noorani: Fierce Leadership Award

Tara Noorani

Hometown: Moorpark, CA
Major: Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN
Graduation date: December 2018

How does it feel to have won the Fierce Leadership Award?

This award feels like a victory for my community; not only for other LGBTQ+ nursing students, but for patients who embody these identities as well. The driving force behind this work is to enhance the health of sexual and gender minorities and to reduce the disparities endured by their communities. To be a part of making this happen, alongside my nursing colleagues, is a dream come true.

What are some of the specific things you have accomplished at Emory and/or the SON that you feel contributed to you earning this award?

The LGBTQ+ nursing initiatives started with a written proposal in which I requested to partner with Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing NHWSN leadership to make our curriculum content, research concentrations and clinical experiences more inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities. Shortly after, I began working with nursing professors to integrate these topics into their courses; many of whom have allowed me to present in their classrooms. In addition, I’ve worked alongside research professors to create abstract proposals that outline successful models for developing LGBTQ-inclusive education in health professions schools.

Choose one or two of these accomplishments and elaborate on what positive outcomes were created.

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the development of a student group called SpeakOut at NHWSN. It was created to promote evidence-based trainings that support the health and wellbeing of racial, gender and sexual minorities. We have started planning our first transgender healthcare competency training event by partnering with organizations in the greater Atlanta community. We plan to host this event at NHWSN in late spring to foster interdisciplinary teamwork amongst nursing, PA, MD, and public health students with interests in LGBTQ+ health.

Why is it important for you to demonstrate this kind of Fierce Leadership?

Nursing leadership is important to me because we need more nurses in positions of power and influence. The lens through which we see health is comprehensive, multifactorial and intersectional. It’s fitting that the word “fierce” is used here because being a leader isn’t always comfortable or convenient. Leadership can be daunting, but our advocacy as nurses must be relentless and determined if we are to truly amend the systemic structures impacting health.

What are your career aspirations?

I plan to begin working as an FNP where I can integrate trans affirming care into my clinical practice. Too often primary care providers believe this warrants a specialist referral when in reality, this creates more barriers for an already marginalized community. I believe healthcare is a human right and my experiences at Emory have expanded this belief to include the provision of gender affirming care. I also hope to build upon the work I started at NHWSN and continue integrating sexual and gender minority health into health professions education.

What made you want to go into nursing?

I went into nursing to dismantle the barriers that prevent people from living their healthiest lives, both physically and mentally. I believe a nurse’s responsibility extends beyond the clinic doors and into the communities they aim to support. So many of the conditions seen in practice are routed in racial and economic injustice and therefore, I intend to utilize nursing as a means for social change.