MISSOULA – A group of nursing students and faculty from Missoula College University of Montana will travel to Nicaragua in January for a volunteer medical trip. The trip will take place Jan. 14-17.
Nine students and three faculty members will travel to the rural town of El Tránsito on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Ann McCloud Sneath, Missoula College nursing adjunct instructor, visited the area several years ago on a similar trip and was inspired to organize a trip for Registered Nursing program students at Missoula College.
The trip is an independent travel opportunity for the students involved, meaning they are raising all of their own funds to make the trip possible. Their group goal is to raise $27,000 to cover airfare, room, board and in-country support, which primarily consists of ground transportation and medical supplies.
The group also plans to donate supplies to the three clinics they will assist. While their supply list includes standard medical tools such as gloves, gauze and suture equipment, they also are hoping to acquire basic supplies while in the country. Pam Boyd and Wendy Barker, Missoula College assistant professors in nursing, explain that Nicaraguans need to bring their own bed sheets and pajamas when they visit clinics. Other needs include curtains, brooms, a desk, chairs, fans and garbage bins.
Gina Cors, one of the Missoula College nursing students in the group, has been actively assisting in fundraising.
“If I can improve the lives of others by donating my time, it is worth every moment,” Cors said. “I feel like the experience gained by helping another person is far greater than anything I have learned while reading chapters, writing papers and taking exams.”
McCloud Sneath notes that students will experience a rural health care system and will assist with many situations like dog bites or dysentery that they wouldn’t normally see in the United States. Students also will check patients’ vital signs and likely will assist with obstetrics and postpartum care. At each clinic they will be under the supervision of Missoula College faculty and the clinic physician.
“In addition to the adventure that comes with traveling abroad, volunteer nursing helps develop a sense of compassion, self-worth and skills,” Boyd said.
The student group has a GoFundMe page and will host fundraising events during November and December, including bake sales and pint nights. For a full schedule of fundraising events, visit http://mc.umt.edu/News/Nursing-Nicaragua.php.