Please write to us some of the lessons you have learned in your volunteer nursing experiences to OneNurseAtATime@gmail.com
1. When I went to Africa for the first time, I thought my 25 years of Emergency Nursing experience was all I needed to know in order to do consultations. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had never seen or diagnosed malaria, malnutrition, measles, various tropical worms, cholera … and the list goes on. I strongly recommend prior to a first mission, read or download the Doctors Without Borders Clinical Guidelines, Essential Drugs and Obstetrics in Remote Settings and/or buy the books for $20 to take with you. Go to DoctorsWithoutBorders.org and look at the bottom left of the homepage for the available texts.
2. Take balloons. Small to pack and kids all over the world respond to them. Nail polish and bubbles (the bottle of solution with a stick inside) are also big hits with kids everywhere (and adults).
3. Save copies of your emails home or keep a journal.
4. Read up on language and customs for the area that you’re traveling to. Even if you’re not fluent in Haitian Creole, a few simple words go a long way!
5. Don’t be scared or shy! The people you’re visiting are just as curious about you as you are about them. Take the time to learn about someone’s family, their work, their daily life… Allow them to ask you questions and answer them openly and honestly.
6. Consider packing and wearing clothes and a pair of good sturdy shoes that you are comfortable with leaving behind. Depending on what organization you travel with, they will sometimes be able to give your donations to a charity which will hand it out appropriately.
7. Bring pictures of your family to share. Also consider bringing a postcard with a picture of the city where you live.