Nursing Students Without Borders Provide Health Education and Screenings to Guatemalan Women
Nursing Students Without Borders of VCU (NSWB of VCU) recently returned from a community service trip to Guatemala, where they provided health screenings and education to women villagers. Thirteen students, accompanied by Genevieve Beaird, M.S., RNC-OB, assistant director of the Clinical Learning Center, traveled in conjunction with the Highland Support Project and were paired with the Association of Mayan Women (Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano or AMA). The Highland Support Project, based out of Richmond, supports communities in the Highlands of Guatemala by fostering innovative models of development that break cycles of dependency. The AMA provides Guatemalan women with skills, education and opportunities for entrepreneurship.
With diabetes and hypertension being common health concerns among the Guatemalan population, the students conducted health screenings for blood pressure, weight, height and glucose readings. Those with readings outside of normal range were counseled by registered nurses on diet, exercise and potential complications if not addressed. The students also had the opportunity to educate the locals about the signs and symptoms of diabetes, as well as management techniques, including exercise, proper diet, and foot care. The group also helped build stoves for local women in order to provide a safer and cleaner method for cooking their meals.
In addition to health education, the students had the opportunity to take part in many great cultural experiences. At the beginning of the trip, they enjoyed a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to tour a coffee co-operative. Once in Quetzaltenango, a Highland city where they spent the majority of their trip, the students participated in an ancient Mayan ritual ceremony, learned about the Mayan numbering system and interacted with a local bone setter who lectured on homeopathic remedies and his role in the Mayan health care system. Students also had the fun opportunity to swim in hot springs, as well as explore the beautiful city of Antigua before heading back to the U.S.
Students who participated include Katherine Connell, Jessica Watts, Hannah Lacombe, Nicole Oliver, Brittany Ilagan, Erica Neary, Rachel Leatherwood*, Megan Hulcher, Rebecca Johnston, Mark Comey, Katerina Deasy, Heather Buckner*, and Allyson Bess.
*Family Nurse Practitioner students