A group of 21 fourth-year Bachelor of Science, Nursing students from Cape Breton University will participate in an international nursing experience when they head to Quito, Ecuador on February 19.
The students, who have recently completed or are completing required clinical placements at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, will learn, teach, work, engage and immerse themselves in Ecuadorian culture during their trip. Joining the trip will be CBU nursing faculty Kim Lake and Belinda Andrea, and CBU safety and security facilities manager Denise Campbell.
The group will travel to Ecuador under the arrangement of United Planet, a non-profit organization that helps make a difference in communities of 35 countries.
During their time in Quito, the students will volunteer in two clinics, an orphanage and an Indigenous community in a mountain village where the Shaman is the health provider. The group will work with two English-Spanish interpreters as they learn about Ecuadorian health practices, food, spirituality, relationships, craftsmanship and dance. The students will develop leadership skills and an understanding for cultural healthcare diversity to take into their future careers.
Madison Andrea, a student-leader for the trip, says she’s looking forward to helping others in need. “How fortunate are we to be able to share the knowledge that we’ve gained in our nursing program over the past four years, and actually make a difference. It is so special that we can witness this first hand and share our learnings when we return to better our cultural practices here in our health care system,” she says.
The trip has solely been funded through fundraising efforts by the students. Craig Smolensky, another student-leader for the trip, says that the fundraising kicked-off with the support of Flavor restaurants when they created the “mission possible burger” and donated a percentage of sales to the student group. Other fundraising campaigns included spaghetti dinners, sub sales, monthly 50/50 draws, bake sales, bottle drives, gift baskets, a GoFundMe page, and two major events: a Steel City Sports Bar auction and a Black Tie Gala event at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.
“Over the year we fundraised, so many local businesses donated merchandise, supplies, money, and time. One of our major supporters was Belmac Supply who assisted with the Steel City auction and donated uniforms for our group members and the Ecuadorian nurses we’ll be working with. Cape Breton is such a wonderful place where communities help each other in all ways possible. We, as a group, could not believe the amount of donations we received from local businesses and the community,” Craig says.
The students will spend a total of 10 days in Ecuador, returning on March 1, and will be busy preparing for their NCLEX-RN exam when they return. Craig and Madison have both been offered full-time nursing jobs here in Cape Breton upon their graduation from CBU, among many other students in the program.
“Being at CBU has impacted my life in many ways; I have gained confidence where I thought I had none. I will definitely take CBU nursing students for their preceptor experience when I am in my career,” says Craig.
“We truly are a family here at CBU; the nursing program is one of the best! Cape Breton has a lot to offer,” Madison says.
Follow the group’s blog to see what they are up to daily.