Kenya experience provides global view to NDSU nursing students


May 8, 2018 – Fargo, North Dakota – A group of NDSU nursing students from Fargo and Bismarck traveled more than 8,000 miles to further build their nursing skills in a global setting during a self-funded spring semester practicum in Kenya. They observed and participated in ER, theatre (operating room), community health and much more during their trip.

For nursing student Gina Valcourt, the trip provided hands-on experience.

“Being at Chogoria Hospital has been an eye opener for me,” Valcourt wrote in the students’ online blog. “The nurses in Chogoria find new and creative ways to use the limited supplies that they are given. My favorite part of this trip was assisting in surgery. I was able to use the bone scraper to hollow out bone marrow from a fractured femur.”

Jade Anders, a senior in nursing, was appreciative of opportunities in Kenya as well. “For me, the best part of the Kenya experience was assisting with the delivery of a beautiful baby girl. I had the opportunity to care for the mother and baby before, during, and after delivery,” wrote Anders. “It was most interesting to learn about the culture in Kenya as well as the differences in the healthcare system and nursing skills/practice.”

Cassie Holt noted some differences. “For me, the biggest challenge I encountered was some of the differences in nursing care at the hospital compared to in the U.S. Our approaches to things versus theirs can be quite different at times, even though neither are necessarily wrong,” said Holt.

Serving people in villages also provided new experiences. “On the drive there we ended up having to fix the road so that our bus wouldn’t bottom out while going uphill. This entailed all of us getting out to pile rocks and dirt to build up the road so that the bus could cross,” wrote students, recording their trip.

After reaching their destination, they provided educational topics at a school, including information on nutrition, first aid, breast health, breastfeeding, dental health, clean drinking water, and how to treat burns, fractures, cuts and scorpion bites.

For Bismarck nursing student Allison Tarno-Cole, the trip provided a reminder to be grateful amidst any circumstance. "My favorite part of the trip were all the smiles we saw throughout the trip, from the children we passed on the street to the patients we cared for in the hospital," she said.

Mary Habib, who is pursuing her degree at NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck, said the trip was memorable.

"I’m so thankful to have had this experience with such great instructors and classmates! I learned so much about what it means to be quick on your feet in emergent situations and that we should be able to appreciate and respect other ways of life," according to Habib.

Nursing student Monica DeKeyser wrote about the trip’s impact. “Prior to coming to Kenya, I had hoped that I would be able to make a difference in the Kenyan people’s lives. While I’m sure that I did impact some, I think that they are the ones who made a difference in my life,” she said.

Molly Secor-Turner, associate professor of nursing and public health at NDSU, serves as the Kenya practicum advisor. She founded the group For the Good Period, providing health education to girls in Kenya, and opportunities for nursing students at NDSU to learn about global missions.

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