Recently, three Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (SRNA) from the University of Michigan-Flint/Hurley Medical Anesthesia Program completed a mission trip in a rural area of Honduras. During the five very long days (8a.m. until as late as 2 a.m.) in the three operating rooms of the hospital, they provided anesthesia to 80 patients ranging from 5 to 85 years old.
The mission team consisted of two surgeons, three Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), one Resident MD, one medical student, two nursing students, and three Registered Nurses from Michigan and Arizona. Accommodations were provided at the hospital for the team, but the team members brought medical supplies donated by various US hospitals, and also those purchased with donations from caring individuals. The team did have to adapt in a number of ways; all the OR linen was washed by two ladies in an outbuilding in cement wash basins, and hung to dry on clothes lines, and the only disposal methods for medical waste was burning.
Even though there were long days and unique challenges each of the SRNAs came away from the experience with positive memories.
Jessica Lewis, SRNA, BSN remarked about observing the interactions of family members giving the post op care to their loved one since there were only 2 nurses for the entire hospital. “The families never voiced complaints, only gratitude that their loved ones had received the medical care they needed,” said Lewis.
Karen Romano, SRNA, BSN expressed her perspective that it had been a wonderful learning experience and she felt lucky to have been able to participate. “The gratitude of the Honduran people made it well worth it.”
Another challenge at times was the language barrier, but as Jodi Delaney, SRNA, BSN noted “Trust was established immediately knowing that we were there to help them in any way that we could with their medical illness.”
This was the most recent mission trip of many that students from the program have participated in. The program allows students to go, on average, three mission trips per year.
Dr. Lynn L. Lebeck, clinical assistant professor sums it up-“We see that it is such a positive learning experience for the students who participate with the CRNAs on these mission trips that we give them the time off from clinical to do it. The CRNAs who organize the trips, donate money, and those that cover for coworkers going on these trips are the unsung heroes and we thank them for their continued service in this capacity.”
The Masters of Science in Anesthesia Program is jointly owned by the University of Michigan-Flint and Hurley Medical Center. The program has been preparing RNs to become CRNAs and provide anesthesia care across Michigan since the original Hurley School of Anesthesia was founded in 1950 and at the masters level since 1991.
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