Nursing students volunteer in Guatemala

Kristen Shook

A group of nursing students had the opportunity to travel abroad to Guatemala over the summer.

Lori Edwards, professor at the school of nursing, lead six graduate students and 12 undergraduates during the trip where they were able to experience the unique Guatemalan culture and practice their health assessment skills. This learning opportunity was available to all nursing students and was counted as an elective for its participants.

While visiting Guatemala, the nursing students were divided into two groups each day and traveled to two different communities. Pop-up clinics were set up outside of schools in the communities where the students were able to work with the general public in need.

“Primarily during the day, we saw each kid,” said Ashlyn Smith, nursing major. “They would bring their own folder in and we would assess them fully head to toe. From there, we would decide if they needed to go to the practitioner or if they were fine to go back to class.”

The vast majority of the individuals that were helped by the nursing students were younger school children. The rest were generally mothers from the surrounding community.

“A lot of people were sick and wouldn’t have gotten help if we wouldn’t have gone,” said Baylie Ginter, nursing major. “A lot of people couldn’t leave home, so we went to them. We also added water filters so they could have clean water, helping to prevent sickness.”

Ginter said she gained a positive outlook and appreciation for the Guatemalan culture.

“They all have a sense of taking care of their parents,” Ginter said.

After experiencing the culture change, Smith said how humbling the experience was.

“Although they were impoverished with resources, such as appropriate water, they weren’t [lacking in] happiness or a good way of life,”  Smith said.

They recommend all students take the opportunity to travel and help others if they have the chance.

“You need to go [on trips to other countries] because it will change you, as well as give the people you are helping hope,” Smith said. “They were so grateful and appreciative for everything we did for them. The world does care. They are not forgotten.”