Clothes hang lazily from lines strung between trees as nine Le Moyne FNP students and one alumna make their way through the backyards and grassy patches in the Village of Worawora, greeting villagers on their way to work. A distant clang, clang, clang from an old, rusted-out tire rim reverberates throughout the village, signaling the arrival of the students at medical outreach clinics. There, students at all stages in their FNP training work alongside Ghanaian physicians and nurses, respected as peers and treated like good friends with one common mission: “Treat the person.”
This was the setting for FNP students who spent their January break living in Worawora, Ghana, where they gained valuable clinical experiences, hosted community outreach clinics, and immersed themselves in a culture unlike their own. Most important, they provided care for many who do not have routine access to medicine. As they grew more accustomed to the clang of the tire rim and the walk to the Worawora hospital, they learned to adapt to a healthcare environment unlike those they experience at home. They lacked basic instruments—like O2 Sat monitors, EKG monitors, and labs that can determine such simple diagnostics such as bleeding time—that are often housed in our hospitals and at the fingertips of our doctors and nurses. “We may have problems in American healthcare, but we can do a lot with what we have. There are people that don’t survive in other parts of the world because they simply don’t have the means we do,” reflected Sarah Hardy FNP ‘18, who is in her second year of the program.
But what students lacked in equipment, they gained in experience, strengthening their history-taking and assessment skills with each patient they treated. They spent hours providing primary care, logging 165 treated patients in just one day. They hosted outreach clinics focused on CPR training and diabetic education, providing resources that might not otherwise be offered. They embraced patients with simple injuries to life-threatening diseases; from the smallest children to the elderly.
“During that two week period, we saw some awesome clinical cases, and learned that even our previous experiences continue to help us develop our future as FNPs,” said Dana Baker, FNP ‘19, who is in her first year of the program. While this experience in Worawora may continue resonate strongly for many as they continue their journey in healthcare, as Colleen Zogby, FNP ‘18, describes, their time in Ghana captured the essence of who they are as Family Nurse Practitioners:
“This is what we do. This is who we are at our very core. We embraced the Ghanaian culture as we would any other, with warmth and an absolute desire to help them, treat their illnesses, listen to their stories.”