These were the words of Nancy Kelly, MHS in a recent article on the Pyxera Global Engagement Forum. Ms. Kelly is the executive director of Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and availability of health care by providing education, training and professional development opportunities to health workers in resource-scarce countries.
HVO’s investment in the global health workforce includes a nursing education program focused on educating and empowering nurses by building a network of professional support that will enable them to better serve patients, and develop skills and knowledge to become global health leaders. Nurses who volunteer through HVO provide education and support to their colleagues and those in training in resource-scarce countries. In turn, they gain insights into the provision of care in the absence of resources, and develop an enhanced global health perspective.
Ellen Milan, RNC-NIC travels regularly to the HVO nursing education project in Uganda. She wrote the following report about her Ugandan colleague, Sarah, who she has mentored since 2001, and who recently earned her certificate in pediatric nursing:
“Her level of knowledge in the care of sick newborns impressed her instructors. Sarah credits this to us – HVO volunteers – for the years of education we provided to her… This is the main reason I keep returning to Uganda: trained Ugandan health care workers training others and saving newborns.
Nurses like Milan and Sarah embody the theme of this year’s International Nurses Day – “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health is a Human Right.” Milan’s leadership as a volunteer nurse educator influenced Sarah to pursue further training on her own. With her new certificate in pediatric nursing, Sarah is now empowered to take on a leadership role in caring for her patients. Both Milan and Sarah are motivated by their belief in the principle of “Health for All,” and their desire to care for vulnerable mothers and their newborn children.
As the International Council of Nurses notes, “Nurses are essential in transforming health care and health systems such that no person is left behind, without access to care.” Recognizing the indispensable role nurses play in achieving Universal Health Coverage, HVO is committed to empowering nurses across the globe by providing professional opportunities that expand skills and cultivate professional exchange.
Wendy Noble, RN, MSN, ARNP, who traveled to HVO’s nursing education project in Cambodia last year, noted the motivation of her Cambodian colleagues – emphasizing how volunteers can build on existing skills, knowledge and motivation.
“Their understanding of diseases, medications, treatments and nursing care was impressive,” noted Ms. Noble. ”Despite having limited resources onsite, they were interested in learning about the standards in more developed countries and how they might try to meet those standards.”
Expand your knowledge of global health and international health systems, while empowering nurses in resource-scarce countries to develop the skills and knowledge they need to lead the way in improving patient care. HVO has a current need for experienced nurse educators and nurse practitioners (with master’s or doctoral level credentials) who are interested in completing a short-term assignment at their nursing education project sites. In addition, HVO has opportunities for nurse specialist volunteers at our wound and lymphedema, hematology and oncology project sites around the globe. Visit the HVO website to learn more about current volunteer opportunities in nursing.