Nursing student explores global health care by volunteering
“Keep an open mind, open heart and be prepared to help in ways you haven’t previously considered,” advises Jeffrey Hammond (34) after completing a one month medical volunteer placement in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania through Projects Abroad.
Jeff, who worked in law enforcement for ten years and most recently as a student nurse, is planning to pursue an advanced nursing degree as a DNP (Doctor of Nurse Practice). He felt that volunteering abroad would allow him to broaden his perspective in global healthcare.
He arrived in Tanzanian in mid-July where he lived with a local host family and was placed at a teaching hospital. “Projects Abroad brings motivated and bright professionals to an environment that is in need of assistance. This particular placement is in far better condition (in my opinion) because of the Projects Abroad volunteers.”
Most hospitals in the country are understaffed and under resourced, a reality that Jeff noticed right away. “The hospital has a huge shortage of necessary supplies (scrubs, syringes, gauze, bandages and medicine). Also, further teaching in clean technique would be quite beneficial to reduce hospital acquired infections.”
Jeff had the chance to work in various departments including the outpatient clinic, pediatrics and major surgery. His routine varied from day to day. “My tasks depended on what the staff and I were working with that day. I would assist in wound care, assessment, education and quite often assisting in surgery, complete care of individual patients and implementing life support measures as needed. In addition, I was able to advocate for individual patients.” The medical environment and lifestyle in East Africa is drastically different from Jeff’s experience in America, but he learned to make the best of his opportunity.
“I’ve made the effort to truly understand the Tanzanian people. The cultural barrier that existed in the beginning steadily dissolved during my time there. As far as the medical atmosphere, I learned that it is always beneficial to keep your individual options open on a patient by patient basis and to not pass judgement, especially when you don’t fully understand the circumstances.”