By Kelly MacNiven
While most students are going back to their hometowns to relax this winter break, a few of the College’s nursing students will be packing their bags for a trip to El Salvador to provide medical relief in the country’s health clinics.
Eight nursing majors will be heading to the Central American country on Jan. 8 and returning on Jan. 15. There they will be shadowing nurses, helping care for people in the facility, providing health education to families in the community and spending a day with kids to teach them how to take care of their health and hygiene.
The trip is being arranged with the help of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, a national organization that focuses on providing health care for children in undeveloped countries. FIMRC will be organizing the students’ transportation, housing and food, but will not cover the cost.
The students are therefore depending on fundraising to help pay for their travels. Originally 40 students signed up to spend the week in El Salvador, but money has held them back, and now only eight will be going on the trip.
“We’re fundraising on our own, which has been the biggest struggle,” junior nursing major Ankita Patel said.
The students have been circulating Joe Corbi’s pizza order forms around campus to raise money and have also been selling T-shirts to support their cause.
The Student Nurses’ Association also helped by donating $1,000 worth of supplies, and the Student Finance Board allocated $1,050, but money is still tight.
The College’s nursing department usually doesn’t partake in events of this size and is hoping the trip will spark the interest of other students to join the nursing major.
Because the nursing program has such a packed curriculum, its students don’t usually have the option to study abroad, Patel explained, which is why short trips like this are especially exciting for those in the program.
The students are hoping that traveling to other countries to help with health care will take place more often in the future.
“We’re trying to make it annual,” Patel said.
The trip to El Salvador planned for January wasn’t approved until October, so the students are at a rush to get everything organized. They hope in future years that planning will go more smoothly.
“We can start fundraising earlier and plan better,” said Brielle Roller, junior nursing major, when discussing how to improve the process for future years.
The students and faculty are hoping to add trips like these to the nursing curriculum so that students can earn credits for their travels and encourage other students to join the nursing program.
“I think it could make people more interested in the nursing program, because a lot of people don’t really know that you can go to other countries to be a nurse,” freshman nursing major Jenna Mowinski said.
As for now, though, El Salvador is only a little over a month away for these future nurses, and they couldn’t be happier.
“I’m so excited. It’s going to be so much fun,” Roller said.
Patel, who has been wanting to do something like this since her freshman year of college, said, “It’s worth it. All of our hard work will be worth it.”
If interested in purchasing a shirt or making donations to contribute to the nursing students’ aid trip to El Salvador, please contact Ankita Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org.