When 15 nursing students from The University of Toledo returned from a medical mission trip to Leon, Nicaragua, in March, they brought back life-changing experiences and invaluable research.These students set up mobile clinics — sometimes within someone’s home if it was offered — and provided much-needed medicine, vaccines and screenings. Some of the students conducted research while providing health care to local patients who sometimes waited hours to receive it.
In April, these students presented their research at the seventh annual UT College of Nursing Research Conference. Their topics included Nicaraguan women’s roles in health care and the impact of education on cervical cancer screenings in Leon, Nicaragua.
“I love watching the students blossom through the major impact that this trip has through them serving other people,” said Denise Oancea, an instructor in the College of Nursing who coordinated the trip.
Oancea, along with Karen Hoblet, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, advised a group of students in Nicaragua as they analyzed the roles of Nicaraguan women in the health care of their families. Since the revolution in the country during the 1980s, research has been limited on the roles women now play in family life and specifically in health care.
Students who worked on this research were Britteney Stanton, Kelly Jackson, Stephanie Blanchard and Stacy Swanson. Stanton, a Toledo native in her second year of the Clinical Nurse Leader Program, said she has enjoyed two trips to Nicaragua and has experienced great things in her time there.“Every year, you’re kind of blown away by the kindness of the people,” Stanton said. “They’re really proud of what they have and everything that they can give.”
One medical doctor in Nicaragua, who only makes about $300 a month, took an entire week off work to help the students, according to Rica Davis, another student who traveled with the group.
Davis, a native of McKinney, Texas, who recently graduated from the Clinical Nurse Leaders Program, worked with fellow students Davis Bothe and Lina Barakat-Boraby to produce research on the impact of education on cervical cancer screening during the trip.
These students provided educational sessions in Nicaragua on either general health or cervical cancer, and then analyzed how many women in each group sought cervical cancer screenings afterward.
Davis said she hopes the program continues to receive donations to make this type of work possible for future students.
“We are able to feed a family for one to two weeks on $30,” she said. “I encourage everyone to think about donating because something that is so little to us goes such a long way over there.”
According to the group’s website, $3 can provide a course of antibiotics for a patient. Even just 20 cents treats parasites for a month.
“It’s amazing and it is wonderful work,” said Mabel Gutierrez, the group’s translator from Nicaragua. “I hope that they can continue doing [the trip] for many more years because it is a benefit for my country and city especially.”
Donations can be made by check to The University of Toledo Foundation with the note “Nicaragua College of Nursing” and mailed to:
The University of Toledo
Health Science Campus
Mail Stop: 1026 Collier Building
3000 Arlington Ave.
Toledo Ohio 43614