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Overcoming language barriers in Mexico

Practicing interviews with interpreters.

By Marissa Bergh

Hello again! Or should we say HOLA! We made it safe and sound to Mérida, and our journey went off without a hitch. After a short three hour flight, we were warmly greeted at the airport by our friend and host, Victor Chan (head of the community organization, Hogares Mana). He and most people here were in especially high spirits this afternoon because MEXICO BEAT GERMANY in their first World Cup Match! (FYI: Fans were so excited after Mexico’s first goal that the cheers registered as a small earthquake in Mexico City)

After settling into our hotel, we spent the afternoon and early evening finding our bearings and taking in the culture of this beautiful city. Despite the frustrations of language barriers, everyone here was so patient and generous toward us. And even though many of us were nervous that we had forgotten every word of Spanish we had ever learned, most of us found that the words came flooding back as the afternoon progressed.

We capped of the evening with a group meeting. First, we had a discussion on cultural differences between here and Atlanta/USA, which evolved into a discussion around immigration, and the driving force behind migration to the U.S. and the bonds that keep Yucatecans close even when a border separates them.

Finally, we practiced doing interviews with interpreters. Having interpreters is necessary even though many of us speak descent Spanish because we want to make sure every word is understood correctly, so that we can more ensure that our future interventions are driven entirely by the community members themselves. This was more challenging than a lot of us thought it might be because we had to remember to slow down the pace and allow for moments of somewhat awkward silence. But we are all super excited to meet some of the women who volunteer at

Hogares Mana tomorrow, and learn more about how we can work with the organization this week, and in the years to come!

Students eager to serve unique patient population in south Georgia

Colleen Closson

Sophie Katz

By Colleen Closson and Sophie Katz 

Yesterday we arrived in Moultrie! There are 18 undergraduate nursing students, along with students from Emory’s MSN program, UGA’s pharmacy school, Clayton State’s dental hygienist program, and Georgia State’s physical therapy program. In all, there are over 100 of us here to volunteer with the farmworkers and their families! We started off last night with a scavenger hunt to help us learn the layout of the town before heading to an amazing dinner at the Colquitt County Center for the Arts. This morning we set up shop at Cox Elementary School and were able to organize files, clothing, and toiletries at record speed.

Tonight will be our first time at night camp with the farmworkers themelves. There is a great deal of nervous anticipation and excitement as we pack our vans and prepare for what we are told will be a long night. We’ve already had our first gnat encounters and are seeing the merits of neck fans! We are looking forward to working with this unique patient population and learning what we can do to best serve them. Those of us in the undergraduate nursing group have had three weeks of lectures, readings, and discussions about the complexity of working with farmworkers and how we can best meet their needs. We know we still have a lot to learn, but we can’t wait to get started!

Moultrie is an incredible opportunity for us as students to learn about a large and often ignored population. The men and women who gather our food—who are truly responsible for feeding the country—have immense difficulty accessing the healthcare they need and deserve. This program strives to provide that service as an extension of the Ellenton Clinic, and has done so with immense efficiency and care for the past 25 years. This work relies on volunteers and donations from across the state to continue. The dozens upon dozens of donations we have received over the past year are already being distributed to those in need of clothing, bedding, toiletries, shoes, and much more. The Moultrie Farmworker Program is truly a team effort, bringing together communities and disciplines of every kind. We are honored and thrilled to be a part of it. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

Excitement for clinical work in Haiti

Ready for takeoff at the airport.

By Samantha Stacks

Bonjour from Haiti!

18 Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing MSN students and faculty set off for Santo, Haiti on June 17th, 2018. Fortunately for us, perhaps unfortunately for you readers, we had no issues of consequence during our travel. All of us arrived safely with all of our luggage (Shout out to Delta’s ultra-silver-premium-five star-two thumbs up-members only program* for letting us check EIGHTEEN BAGS under one person’s name.)

We flew into Port-au-Prince with spectacular views of the island of Hispaniola greeting us. The sun was shining bright upon us as we left the airport which resulted in nearly instantaneous, profuse sweating. Temps for the week are predicted to be around 95°F and above, with lots of humidity; we were informed that it’s not usually this hot so early in the year, I guess we are just very lucky!

A view of Haiti from the air.

This year’s MSN group is the largest Santo, Haiti trip to date! We have nurse practitoners representing the many specialties that Emory offers including family, adult gerontology, pediatric primary care, emergency nurse practitioners, and a midwifery student. We also have two RN to BSN students who will be in charge of the pharmacy and triage. We are all looking forward to learning and collaborating with each other to meet the needs of our patient population.

After a short bus ride where we were able to take in the sights and smells of some of the neighborhoods (there was some delicious smelling street food that I’m dying to get a taste of), we arrived at Foundation for Peace, our home base for the trip. The gracious staff welcomed us, briefed us, and fed us (fried plantains, chicken and HOT sauce, beets, and rigatoni, yum!) and we later prepped for our first day of clinic by sorting through all the supplies we would be using.

On the eve of our first clinical day, I think we all felt a little apprehensive for what was to come. Hardly any of us had practiced nursing in a low resource setting like this before and many of the visits tomorrow would be about conditions not seen in the US. We were told to expect 200+ patients and almost no diagnostic tools; we would be relying a lot upon our own clinical judgment to educate and treat to the best of our abilities. It was certainly daunting but I think we also felt a mounting excitement for the impending challenge ahead. Either that or we were excited about the prospect of the next morning’s delicious Haitian coffee we’ve heard so much about (probably a combination of both)!

*Full disclosure, this is not an actual Delta program, nor is this post sponsored by Delta Airlines, but we did appreciate the customer service!

Adjusting to Peru altitude

On the road.

By Kiah Ford

Kiah Ford

Official Day 1 in Cusco and it’s safe to say we’re exhausted, but excited too! Who knew traveling to an elevation of 12,000 feet would be so tiring? We seem to be adjusting well so far, but only time will tell if altitude sickness will unleash its full effect on us tomorrow during our hike through the Sacred Valley! Cusco, Peru is absolutely breath taking (pun intended). The Andes Mountains can be seen from every direction.

 

 

A view of Cusco, Peru.

In preparation for Mexico

Packing the essentials.

By Marissa Bergh

Marissa Bergh

Greetings Emory Nursing Community!! After a grueling few weeks of summer session classes, we are finally about to embark on our journey to Mérida, Mexico. For those who don’t know, a small group of us, including ten ABSN students along with professors Dr. Vicki Hertzberg, Dr. Valerie Mac, and PhD student, Roxana Chicas are spending the next eight days working with the organization Hogares Mana, lead by our new friend Dr. Victor Chan (or in Dr. Hertzberg’s case, old friend), to help educate women and children of the community about basic disease prevention techniques, domestic and sexual violence prevention, and nutrition.

This will be Emory Nursing’s inaugural trip to Mérida, so one of our overarching goals on this trip is to foster a relationship with Victor’s organization, and the community he so humbly serves.

As a group we have put in hours of preparation before we embark so that we can hit the ground running tomorrow. Many of us have broken out our DuoLingo apps to brush up on our Spanish, have turned off the AC’s in our apartments in a desperate attempt to acclimate to the HOT weather that will no doubt meet us in Mérida, and collected copious amounts of sunscreen and bug spray.

But on a more serious note, we interviewed Dr. Victor Chan to discuss his visions for our partnership and give us an opportunity to ask key questions about his organization and what we can do to best meet the needs of the women and children he works with. Soon-to-be Dr. Nezatiualcoyoti Xiatzteutli gave us a skype lecture on the history of the Mayan culture and its implications on modern day Yucatecans. We read “Yucatecans in Dallas, Texas” by Rachel Adler, a book about Yucatecan culture, and the forces driving migration to the US. We also discussed the Mexican Healthcare system, and the best ways to approach sexual/domestic violence prevention with children. And that’s just the work we have done as a group! The faculty members have put in countless of extra hours into organizing, researching, and even spending part of their winter break on a fact-finding trip to Mérida.

We are all so excited to go! (and for those of us who are less than fluent in Spanish, a little nervous…) This will no doubt be one of the most enlightening, challenging, and rewarding weeks of our nursing school careers, and we are so grateful to the School of Nursing, our faculty coordinators for making this trip a reality, and most importantly to Victor and his organization for hosting us. STAY TUNED for more posts about our adventure:)

Emory Nursing students honored at 2018 Diploma Ceremony

Students line up during the Diploma Ceremony Monday, May 14th.

By Andy Goodell
Communications Manager
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Hot and humid conditions didn’t stop graduates of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing from beaming with pride during their 2018 Diploma Ceremony at McDonough Field on Monday, May 14th.

Stefka Mentor, BSN Class President, delivers the Commencement Address.

This sentiment of determination among the student body was reinforced by Stefka Mentor, BSN Class President, as she delivered the Commencement Address.

“Nursing is a commitment,” said Mentor.

Kathryn Dirks, an MSN representative who delivered the Student Welcome at Monday’s ceremony, expressed the hope that graduates will continue to be as dedicated to nursing as they are today.

“May we never lose sight of why we chose this path,” said Dirks.

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing’s Class of 2018 has distinguished itself in many ways. There are 412 total graduates in the class with eight DNP students and eight PhD graduates. There are 78 BSN graduates, 90 Accelerated BSN graduates, 133 MSN, 73 Accelerated MSN graduates this year. Nine members of the 2018 Class honorably served in American military.

Nursing School graduates this year hail from 30 states and two foreign countries. 19 percent of graduating students are doing so with honors. Five Students graduated Summa Cum Laude or with grade point average of 3.9.

Award winners pose for a photo with Dean Linda McCauley.

Commencement weekend began with the Saturday Awards Ceremony and culminated with the Diploma Ceremony on Monday. The following awards were given during the Saturday, May 12, School of Nursing Awards (BSN and PhD) at Glenn Memorial Auditorium as well as at Monday’s Diploma Ceremony:

Boisfeuillet Jones Medal: Patricia Ann Craven

Award of Excellence: Ansley Nicole Caulkins

Excellence in Collaboration: Laruen Nicole Noble

Excellence in Social Responsibility: Audrey Ann Fisher

Excellence in Innovation: Xiquin Huang

Excellence in Leadership: Alexander William King

Nell Hodgson Woodruff Award for Compassion and Caring: Melissa Ann Garner

Silver Bowl Awards: PhD – Helen Frances Baker, BSN – Stefka Mentor

Assistant Clinical Professor, Melissa Owen, PhD, RN earned the Emory Williams Teaching Award. Owen also earned the Heart of the Student Award for the second time from the graduating BSN class.

Providing Affirming Healthcare to Transgender and Gender Diverse Patients

By Tara Noorani

This past week, the Dean’s Executive Student Council (DESC) and SpeakOUT, a new LGBT student advocacy group, hosted the first transgender health training at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (NHWSN). The presentation was entitled “Providing Affirming Healthcare to Transgender and Gender Diverse Patients” and while it was hosted at NHWSN, this event wouldn’t have been possible without the collective teamwork of Emory School of Medicine and Allied Health Professions, Laney Graduate School and the Office of LGBT Life. Additionally, we were privileged to welcome co-founders Linda Herzer and Gabrielle Claiborne from Atlanta-based diversity training firm, Transformation Journeys Worldwide and family nurse practitioner, Michelle Sariev to share their expertise about the health needs of gender minorities.

Michelle’s experience in providing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a FNP at Ponce Primary Care displays a key takeaway – transgender health is not a specialty issue, but rather something to be integrated into basic primary care. Regardless of your gender identity, this presentation had the ability to bring together healthcare providers, students, and faculty for a night of learning and growth. This is how we progress as nursing professionals and how we develop the sensitivity to communicate confidently and compassionately to our patients. Ultimately the task is on us to seek knowledge on unfamiliar topics, to lean into discomfort and to consistently evaluate our belief systems.

The DESC and SpeakOUT plan to host future events that highlight the healthcare needs of racial, gender, and sexual minorities. We look forward to partnering with other student organizations and appreciate feedback on what the NHWSN community would like to learn more about. The decision to become a nurse demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning, but must also include a keen awareness that health outcomes do not manifest equally across communities. We must strive for a more equitable healthcare model that recognizes health disparities between populations and aims to dismantle the systems that drive them.

The DESC is composed of student leaders Tara Noorani, Dylan Avery, Alex Interiano, Sasha Cohen and Katina Thompson. Special thanks to Trisha Cabantac for capturing great photos during the event

Emory donors fuel nursing leadership dreams

Pictured here, from left, are Mark Lee 18ABSN, Robert W. Woodruff Scholar; Lauren Verity 18AMSN, Hearst scholar; and Ann Craven 18BSN, Josephine Malone scholar.

Heartfelt thanks expressed at donor, scholarship recipient reception

By Andy Goodell, Communications Manager
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Scholarship recipients at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing expressed their thanks to donors who helped make their top-tier nursing education possible during a reception at the Druid Hills Golf Club. The event included more than 200 donors and student scholarship recipients.

After introductory words from Amy Dorrill, associate dean of development & alumni relations and Dean Linda McCauley, several scholarship recipients told their personal stories of achievement, thanks to their individual scholarships.

The Lehr family with the first Sally T. Lehr scholarship recipient, Hannah Spero 19AMSN. From left to right: David Ridenour, Elizabeth Lehr Ridenour, Carolyn Lehr Facteau, Hannah Spero 19AMSN, Ralph Lehr 65C 69DDS, Allison Lehr Weatherspoon, and Dustin Weatherspoon.

Among the students expressing their gratitude were Ann Craven 18BSN, a Josephine Malone Scholar; Lauren Verity 18AMSN, a Hearst Scholar; and Mark Lee 18ABSN, a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar. Additional scholarship recipients unable to attend the reception because they are stationed around the world, thanked donors via video presentation. These included Brittany Eddy 09MPH 17AMSN, who is helping with healthcare recovery in the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma and Maria; Dria Abramson 17ABSN, who graduated in December and is working at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California; and Brandon Spratt 17BSN 19DNP, who is currently in northwest Ethiopia conducting a research project for his DNP degree.

Craven, of Monroe, GA, is a true legacy nursing student. Her mother and aunts are Emory Nursing alums, and all joined her grandmother in the nursing profession. The BSN student says she always loved hearing about their nursing experiences and that each are women who lead by example, teaching her what it means to have integrity, be compassionate, selfless, and hardworking. During her speech, Craven expressed appreciation to donors for giving her the opportunity to connect with her mentor, Linda Grabbe, PhD, who shares Craven’s passion for wellness interventions for nurses.

“I hope I can make as great of an impact on nursing students and nurses in the Emory Healthcare System just as they have impacted me,” said Craven.

Cheryl Murphy 77BSN with her Seavey Murphy Adopt-A-Scholar, Pele Solell 17Ox 19BSN.

Verity, of Marion, OH, said she pursued nursing because she has a true love and compassion for people, adding that she wants to make a difference in people’s lives by providing care and being an advocate for those in need. At a young age, Verity was led to the field of oncology. She would eventually enroll in the Emory Nursing MSN Program. Verity also thanked donors for supporting her passion for nursing.

“From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you all enough,” Verity said to the audience of donors. “Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to give back the way you have given to us.”

Scholarship recipients and Accelerated MSN students gather at the scholarship reception to thank donors for their scholarship support. From left to right: Hannah Vaughn 19AMSN, Nursing Associates Scholarship recipient; Madeline Steffensen 19AMSN, Harriet & Ellis Williams Scholarship recipient; Brittany Ott 19AMSN, Ellen Bowden Nursing Scholarship recipient; Madison Whitlock 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; Meagan Huff 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; Nicole Anderson 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; and Samantha Johnson 19AMSN, School of Nursing Endowed Scholarship recipient.

Lee, of Berkley, Calif., came to Emory Nursing’s ABSN program after having earned a Master of Science degree in Global Health from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. These courses of study comingle well with Lee’s overall philosophy on improving health worldwide because doing so requires collaboration at both the population and patient levels. He says training as a nurse affords him a great opportunity to work collaboratively across teams and settings to coordinate positive health outcomes. During the evening celebrating nursing donors and scholarship recipients, Lee said he wanted to have just as much of an impact on the future of health care as the donors sitting before him have had on him and his fellow scholarship recipients.

“Thank you for supporting our dreams and our passions,” said Lee.

Susan Greb 90BSN with Dean Linda McCauley 79MN. Greb is an alumna and donor who traveled from Vancouver, Washington to attend the event.

Our nursing donors are alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the school all with a shared mission with the School of Nursing to transform nursing, heath and systems of health care within the local and global community through education, research and clinical practice.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 5

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

“Donde estamos hacia dónde vamos” which is Spanish for, “where we are and where we are going.” This is the quote on the presenter slide of “ADAMES“ which was celebrating 15 years of operating as well as a despedida for Dr. Jenny Foster.

This entire trip has been such a privilege and we are so fortunate to have serendipitously been able to explore Dr. Fosters last trip bringing students, and we just so happen to be a part of a luxurious and grand ceremony! It was so moving to see how the grassroots and community based program evolved over the years to tackle issues with innovative solutions such as through canguru implementation, establishing a new clinic, and most recently, hablameme bebé (a Georgia Public Health initiative)!

Through partnerships with the University, we were able to foster an education connection and give presentations about these initiatives as well as a pharmacology course to Dominican Republican nursing students so they can be leaders at the forefront of their communities. The dedication of multiple community health leaders to invest their own time and energy to the health of their localities highlights the community- oriented attitudes of the Dominican Republic.

We also saw this first hand when we saw how remarkably innovative and comprehensive their clinic was, including: patient education in the waiting room, a colorful poster about contraceptives, a dentist office, a stocked pharmacy, a casita for residents to sleep in over nights, and an entire map of their local region with little thumbtacks for each constituent.

A testament of the health and strength of the mind and body came from a 105-year-old-grandma we did a home visit too, who immediately went to the clinic after our recommendations and blessed all of us with good fortune. Through all of our various experiences throughout the week, we truly saw how far this program has come and the energy and momentum for how far it will continue to go. Donde estamos hacia dónde vamos.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 4

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

The most important thing when traveling to a foreign country is having an open mind and open heart to new experiences and ways of life.

These alternative breaks are extremely valuable for students to see how health infrastructure operates in a country with less resources. However, we must ponder: is it worse? is it better? The short answer is neither. We realize everything is relative.

It’s been a true privilege to be able to see and compare hospitals, clinics, and home visits in the Dominican Republic. It’s been incredibly meaningful to see how c-sections, pediatric emergency visits, canguru care for premature babies, and wound care happens here.

From people pouring sugar on pressure ulcers, hospitals autoclaving their own materials, to carrying a baby in arms from the OR to the NICU, we saw that things operated here differently yet worked for them. Furthermore, we realized that simply being there and continuously showing up and being present for a family is integral in the art of nursing.

After presenting with some basic essentials, we were returned with a beautiful prayer and song. On the other hand, nursing is also research driven. Through partnering with local nursing students here in the Dominican Republic, we equip and empower them with tools to help transform their community through a resilience model. However, it is crystal clear to us that there is already so much resilience embedded into the hearts and communities of the Dominican Republic.