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Nursing students off to Dominican Republic to lend medical skills

On Saturday, January 5, four senior nursing students and two nursing faculty flew to the Dominican Republic for two weeks to work in medical clinics with their colleagues from University of Massachusetts and University of Rhode Island. This learning experience and service project was funded by the Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) Program Competitive Grant.

Dr. Neddie Serra, chair of the Frances M. McLaughlin Division of Nursing; Professor Lori Ann Palmieri, and senior nursing students Thelesha Gray, Jessica Leandre, Katie Sanchez, and Kripa Patel have been preparing for this journey since last September. Preparations included gathering medical supplies, updating inoculations, gathering supplies for basic survival such as mosquito netting and flashlights, and teaching materials. Supplies that they are bringing to distribute to the residents are white socks to help prevent foot injuries while working in the fields, drugstore reading glasses, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other articles for personal hygiene.

Academically, these four students chose this project as their capstone, doing research on the indigenous culture, common diseases, developing their objectives for the trip and developing curriculum for teaching hygiene. They traveled to the University of Rhode Island for an orientation and to meet with their colleagues. Upon their return, they will finish their capstone using a journal kept during the trip, and highlight what they have learned working is less than pristine conditions. They will write a paper and submit articles for publication as well.

They will be staying in Cotui, DR and working in the medical clinics conducting assessments, giving treatment to minor wounds and teaching hygiene to the local residents. Many of these clinics are held in other-purposed buildings such as schools or chapels and may not have running water or electricity. The resources are sparse and the students will need to understand the local living conditions before they begin to give advice about medical care.

The Bloomfield College contingent is part of a larger group of nurses, nurse practitioners and graduate and undergraduate students that work in the Dominican Republic on a regular basis. “The students will be learning problem solving a critical thinking as they learn to adapt the nursing models they have learned at Bloomfield College to an environment with few resources,” say Dr. Serra.