Nursing students expand their
borders, aid developing countries
courtesy of U.Va. nursing student Kelly Davison
nursing student Kelly Davison teaches girls in a San Salvador
orphanage about STDs.
San Sebastian, El Salvador, is
a rural village marked by poverty, earthquakes and the lingering
social tensions of a long civil war. Only one provider of affordable
medical services is open past sunset.
The local Red Cross clinic, a dilapidated office with substandard
lighting and no privacy, is staffed by a single doctor and a handful
of young volunteers who go door to door every week to collect
donations to pay the rent.
that is about to change. Last summer, a group of U.Va. students
purchased a $6,000 tract of land in San Sebastian on which they
plan to build a medical facility, complete with separate waiting
and exam rooms and sufficient electricity and plumbing.
is one of three projects undertaken by Nursing Students Without
Borders, a U.Va. student organization dedicated to empowering
under-served communities through health education.
group has joined with a local non-profit organization, Building
Goodness, which will donate building expertise and labor. The
students must come up with the cost of materials and airfare for
the builders, a total of about $80,000.
personally hope it will be completed while Im here,
said third-year nursing student Connor Ginley of the San Sebastian
Cross volunteers learn to suture on pig's feet.
in 1999 by U.Va. two nursing students, Nursing Students Without
Borders has become the model for similar groups at the Medical
College of Virginia, Purdue University and the University of North
Carolina at Greensboro. It has an enviable budget by standards
for contracted independent organizations, thanks to diligent fund
raising and significant private donations.
seized every possible opportunity to gain support and assistance
both within and external to the University, said Jeanette
Lancaster, dean of the School of Nursing.
and another generous past donor, U.Va. President
John T. Casteen III, were among the first to be tapped for funds
to support the San Sebastian building program.
San Sebastian initiative not only was the groups debut program,
but also is its most successful. Affiliated with the Red Cross
only nominally, the local clinic has relied heavily on NSWB for
medical supplies and volunteer training for four years. Members
have also set up a teaching program for midwives and a diabetes
support group in the town.
completion of the new clinic would represent a successful closure,
said Ginley, who is also vice president of the organization.
into place something that is going to stay there
be a great way to end our time in San Sebastian, he said,
adding that the NSWB mission is to engender sustainable infrastructure,
not to act as a permanent courier of medical supplies for Third
addition to the San Sebastian project, the group has started two
other outreach programs.
July 2001, the Migrant Health Initiative has sent dozens of nursing
students to migrant worker camps in Nelson and Albemarle counties
during the summer peach- and apple-picking seasons. There the
students refer laborers with health problems to medical providers
and train settled Latino immigrants as lay health promoters in
their communities. The effort is a joint venture with the Rural
Health Outreach Program.
have also traveled twice to the town of Kysmolovsky, Russia, where
they began an assessment of that communitys medical needs.
all these projects, NSWBs goal is to provide education and
resources, as opposed to direct medical services.
not going there to see patients, said the groups president,
Kelly Davison. We want the local people to provide the health
care. Were just trying to set them up or provide them with
materials that might help them to do that.
Carroll, assistant dean of the School of Nursing and adviser to
the student group, said the interaction with health-care providers
abroad was one of the most valuable gains for the Russian participants.
here have a lot of voice in the health-care process, she
said. To go to a place [like Russia] is very, very different.
Our 20-year-old students probably were more comfortable doing
more things than some of the nurses there.
past NSWB members have taken their field experiences beyond U.Va.
Former president Rosalind Delisser currently works with substance
abuse patients on an American Indian reservation; another alumna,
Esther Miller, is an active liaison with the Migrant Health Initiative
through her new capacity at the Rural Health Outreach Program.
applauded the program as an early application of the ideals of
the nursing profession.
school is built on the premise that our graduates will be leaders
both while in school and upon graduation. NSWB has been a visible
sign and symbol for both commitment to caring and leadership,
that health outreach is most successful as a combination of skills,
the group encourages participation from all University students
as well as faculty.
social workers and medical students have all taken part in past
trips, and Carroll expects that many students will offer up their
sweat and callouses for the next trip to San Sebastian.
may not know anything about health care but can really effect
positive change for the people of this community by swinging a
hammer, she said.
said, Its a humbling experience, its a grounding
experience, its an inspiring experience. He plans
to promote the work of the nursing students among his peers in
the hope of planting a seed in their head.
Salvador: NSWB has purchased land to build a 24-hour medical clinic
to serve people in San Sebastian, El Salvador. In conjunction
with a Charlottesville nonprofit organization, Building Goodness,
NSWB hopes to begin construction within two years. Volunteers
are welcomed for help in fund raising as well as manual labor.
Contact: Lindsay Horlacher, email@example.com
Health: Throughout the summer and picking seasons, NSWB makes
weekly health-related visits to migrant farm worker camps in Nelson
and Albemarle counties. Working with the Rural Health Outreach
Program, students identify medical needs, offer referrals and
lead health education courses. Volunteers are needed for interpreting,
transportation, medical supplies and other resources.
Contacts: Mary Elizabeth Keegan, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Melissa
NSWB plans to make its third trip to Kysmolovsky, Russia, in 2004.
After an assessment of the communitys needs, students plan
to conduct health-care initiatives on matters of immediate concern
to local residents. Russian and non-Russian speaking volunteers
Contact: Andrea Craine, email@example.com
Donate: Contributions to Nursing Students Without Borders may
be made payable to The U.Va. Fund (marked for NSWB) and mailed
to: U.Va. Alumni Hall, PO Box 3446, Charlottesville, VA 22903
For Additional information about Nursing Students Without Borders,
visit the Web site at: www.nswb.org