Nursing students explore health care practices in Kenya
Published June 25, 2012
This spring five NDSU seniors participated in an intriguing practicum in the African nation of Kenya, where they explored their chosen profession from a completely different perspective.
From April 1-21, the students took part in medical activities in a variety of Kenyan locations, seeing patients from infants to seniors who were suffering from ailments such as upper respiratory infections, malaria, arthritis and HIV/AIDS.
Molly Secor-Turner, assistant professor of nursing, organized the capstone experience and served as the students’ faculty adviser.
“I really hope the practicum helps students understand how to become globally connected,” Secor-Turner explained. “For me, it’s important to help students and become sensitive to the influence of culture, environment and life experiences on health care outcomes for individuals. I wanted students to have the opportunity to see that firsthand in a developing country. I hoped they would come back to the United States and understand that even though there many differences in Kenya, there are also many similarities, and often the challenges there are the same as here.”
Among the many stops for the students was assisting during a one-day medical camp in the remote arid Tharaka region of the country.
“The furthest one patient walked was more than 80 kilometers,” Secor-Turner said, noting the students saw more than 800 patients during a 12-hour period. “Many of the patients started walking the day before the camp just to have access to very basic primary health care.”
Other practicum experiences included eight days at a mission hospital in the town of Chogoria and visits to two orphanages and a primary care hospital in the capital city of Nairobi. “The students had across-the board health care experiences in Kenya,” Secor-Turner said.
The assortment of experiences led a variety of reactions and personal highlights for the students.
“The trip to Kenya was an unbelievable experience,” said Brooke Marquardt of Bottineau, N.D., who said her most memorable moment was a tour of Dagoretti Children’s Center, a home for orphaned children with special needs. “I will never forget all of the wonderful people I met and the patients I cared for.”
Ashlie Siefert of Rochester, Minn., said, “Having our senior practicum in Kenya opened my eyes to a whole different way of life. I not only gained personal growth, but also professional growth as a nurse by learning about the importance of care, resource utilization and teamwork.”
Brittany Huggins from Warroad, Minn., said, she gained an awareness of different types of care. “Even though some of Kenya’s practices are different from ours in the USA, that does not mean it is a bad thing. We have much to learn from different cultures.”
For Leah Beekman of Eagan, Minn., an unforgettable experience was visiting HIV and AIDS patients at Nyumbani Children's Home, a facility for orphaned or abandoned children. “They also serve more than 3,500 children and families in the surrounding Nairobi area and slums,” she said. “It was truly incredible to see a group of people so dedicated to one specific cause. Being there changed my heart.
“Spending time with people of different cultures is such a blessing. It will not only change your life, but it gives you the opportunity to change theirs,” Beekman said.
Having our nursing practicum in Kenya was the best possible experience,” said Carissa Krueger from Grand Forks, N.D. “I learned way more than I could have imagined about both nursing care and the cultural aspects associated with it. I feel that I am now prepared to be a culturally competent nurse.”