Rachel Bartock describes her experience with mission nursing:
About five days before the start of winter break, I received a phone call that would change the way I view nursing and my future career. A group of nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center were going on a medical mission trip. The dates coincided with our winter break.
Within 24 hours, I was scheduled for an 8-day trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands, West Indies, to provide diabetic education and patient care to the Vincentian people.
The Patsy Douglas Youth Empowerment Foundation works to enhance the lives of underprivileged youths in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Our journey was part of the foundation’s Diabetes Prevention Project.
Diabetes is rampant in St. Vincent due to the lack of healthcare, medication, and education. Our group attempted to supply all three. We provided disease management, foot and neuropathy assessment, and diabetic screening. We distributed nail clippers and mirrors so patients can care for and inspect their feet. We delivered anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetic medications, insulin syringes, and three hemoglobin A1C machines.
I worked on a team with a physician, a nurse practitioner, and a registered nurse. We saw 60-70 patients per day. The clinic was flooded with Vincentians “waiting to see the Americans,” eager to learn how to better manage their diabetes. We stressed the importance of daily foot checks, food portion control, and blood pressure control.
Our team participated in a health fair to spread awareness, answer questions, and perform A1C, blood glucose, and cholesterol testing.
Immersion in a different culture with little medical equipment and few supplies was truly an experience. The trip showed me how much there is to be grateful for as a healthcare provider in America. It helped me think about what it means to be a nurse.
I would recommend a medical mission trip to anyone eager to help beyond America’s borders.
Photo: Nursing student Rachel Bartock arrives in the Grenadines, West Indies, on a medical mission trip.