It’s no surprise that the health care world has gone global. The international movement has also made its way to college campuses and especially to Edinboro University’s Department of Nursing.
This semester, a group of 14 Edinboro nursing students embarked on a service-learning journey to the Dominican Republic. For eight days, the classroom came to life as students learned first-hand of the health, environmental and nutritional challenges of the Dominican people. Students engaged in hands-on learning – including home health visits to families in the mountainous region – and interacted with nurses from neighborhood primary care clinics, hospitals, diagnostic centers and rehabilitation centers.
As pre-service nurses, students provided care to residents in a long-term care facility, even meeting a resident who was 114 years old.
“This experience really opened my eyes to how much nurses impact the community in which they work,” said Edinboro student Susie Guisto, a junior nursing student from Emporium, Pa. “It changed my personal views because I never fully understood how much of an impact that simple nursing has on some patients’ lives and how much patients depend on us for their general health.”
The one-on-one time with girls in an orphanage and a school for mentally-disadvantaged children was clear evidence that a smile and loving heart undoubtedly transcend any language barriers, as we left with our hearts filled with joy.
During the trip, students made an impromptu visit to a new high school in a rural mountain community that was completely self-sustaining. Residents grow their own food for consumption and sale and fully operate a fish hatchery, beehives for honey procurement and a hydroelectric plant.
“Visiting the homes in the communities in the mountain was an amazing and eye-opening experience to see how these people live in such poor communities,” said junior Edinboro nursing student Meghan Lucci, from Pittsburgh. “They are happy with whatever they have. It makes you put your life in perspective and see all the things you take for granted. A lot of those people just have people they love and a roof over their head, and they are happier than some of the richest people I know.”
Edinboro nursing students gave back through their work in the community in the clinical locations – however, they had plenty of time to soak in the Dominican culture through the food, music, dancing, language and the truly generous nature of the people.
Students recognized the connectivity of health-related issues of the Dominican population to those experienced by patients in the United States.
“I felt happier when leaving the Dominican,” said Irwin, Pa. native and Edinboro senior Hailey Watters. “Everyone we met there was so happy and pure. It doesn’t take much to say hello to a random stranger on the street and I’m trying to be more open to new people.”
To learn more about Edinboro University’s Nursing Department and future service-learning travel, visit www.edinboro.edu/nursing.
Photo caption: This semester, 14 students from Edinboro University’s Department of Nursing traveled to the Dominican Republic for a service-learning project.