Sharing life, making a difference; weaving my experiences as a woman, a mother, and nurse.

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Carunoan West

Yesterday we held a Medical Mission in this little village in La Union province, located on a hillside outside of Agoo where we are staying. We worked with our partner teams from International Baptist Church Manila and Living New Ministries to provide medical care. The students were assigned different stations – Intake, Vital Signs, Pharmacy, and the Dental clinic. There were volunteers from the local church that helped translate for them. Besides keeping up with the students I enjoyed practicing a little nursing myself. I filled in where needed and taught oral hygiene with two groups of children. 

The clinic was held outside in the middle of their community with either the cover of trees or bamboo and canvas makeshift tent. Luckily no rain today, after heavy rains yesterday. 

Community nursing at its finest! 

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A nurse’s hands…

We completed our week at Mary Johnston Hospital and the students had an incredible time. There is much to share about their experiences, and I will, but first I just have to brag a little. These students are awesome! I would say 99% of all nursing students begin their first clinical experience just a little anxious about what will happen. How will it be to interact with the patient? Will they know I am just starting? Will I know what to do? It’s normal; it’s expected. But that’s in an environment that is familiar. Slightly different story here and they embraced it. There is a nice list of skills they now have done in a setting that is not like home. 

These tasks they learned require the nurse to express her knowledge and compassion through the use of her hands – the art of nursing! There is dexterity needed for carrying out procedures and tasks and equally important the discernment to know that all that is needed from the hands of a nurse is a kind touch.  These students illustrated that so well this past week and I cannot wait to see their hands reach out this week in a new place and a new nursing adventure. 

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The first anything is always an experience to remember. As a Mom, my children’s first words, first steps, first day of school, first jobs are all firmly embedded in my mind and bring a smile every time I remember.

As a Dean/Professor, I appreciate “firsts” of nursing students as well. The first time a stethoscope finds the ears of a student. The first time a BP is taken, the first IV, the first injection, even putting on the first set of scrubs is exciting!

All of these firsts, from saying Momma to starting a patient’s IV are monumental accomplishments and deserve just a little shout-out! I am happy to share some of these moments here in the Philippines. 

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And again…


Off we go again…the “we” always changing. Every year, I leave the USA on a “May-venture” with nursing students from ETBU. This is part of our school’s Global Study and Serve program. More specifically for my nursing students it is living-out their call to nursing and exploring the idea of missions all through cultural immersion.

It is fun; it is exciting, but it is not easy. The climate is different, the time change is significant, traffic is nothing like we see at home. Though the English language is prevalent, there is an unfamiliar language that surrounds us – Tagalog. Even within our team some of us are not well-acquainted and we experience the uncertainty of knowing no one well. In the hospital and the nursing school the equipment, procedures, and treatments vary somewhat from what we see in the USA.

For me, this is the beauty of the trip, in all things different, challenging, and maybe even frightening, we find a commonality within all the differences. Finding that commonality brings balance to all things unusual and unsettling. Though the daily habits may be different, the Filipino people strive each day to get to their jobs, provide for their families and enjoy life. In our small group we evolve and establish our unique identity as a team. Here at Mary Johnston, the call to serve God through nursing is identical to our call and so much like us, is unwavering.

It is a beautifully diverse world God gave us. Delightfully different, yet a thread of sameness and connection interwoven among us.