Imagine providing healthcare services to thousands of patients in remote communities across the globe. Many patients have had no prior medical care, and some suffer from conditions and diseases not commonly found in the U.S. Access to resources like water, electricity and medical supplies is scarce.
Students from Chamberlain College of Nursing care for patients in these communities each year through the Global Health Education Program.
On a recent trip to Hyderabad, India, Chamberlain students were accompanied by videographers who captured their emotional journey caring for the underserved, including patients suffering from leprosy.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, often has a social stigma attached due to fear of transmission. Left untreated, the disease continues to progress, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“A lot of these patients are never touched, and have never been touched,” said Debbie Burchfield, an alumna of Chamberlain’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. “So when a client presents to us for treatment, it’s not just about the medication. It’s not just about the treatment plan. It’s about touching them and holding them.”
Chamberlain’s Global Health Education Program experience, offered to students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program, expands students’ educational horizons through a full spectrum of field, social and cause-related clinical experiences.
Students can go on two- to three-week service project immersion experiences in various countries. Past locations included Brazil, Haiti, Kenya, Bolivia, the Philippines, Uganda and the Dominican Republic. Student nurses learn how to be flexible and creative with the facilities and resources they have to accommodate patients of different cultural backgrounds – all while earning college credit through the Community Health Nursing course.
“Just being a human helping another human being, regardless of what they look like or what disease they have, is very gratifying,” said student Ariel Guzmán. “I will never, ever forget this trip.”
By Chamberlain University
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