Jo’s Nurses: Dream One, Do One, Lead One
Jo’s Nurses is a medical mission program for current, active nurses who have never volunteered abroad but want to begin to incorporate volunteering into their careers. Individuals or small groups of nurses will travel with a mentor from One Nurse At A Time with selected organizations from the One Nurse directory. One Nurse At A Time provides pre-trip orientation and training so nurses are comfortable and informed, financial support and hands-on supervision. Nurses commit to at least one additional volunteer mission the year following their Jo’s Nurses experience.
Jo’s Nurses is named after Marilyn Jo Schuyler, an early supporter of One Nurse At A Time, who set up a memorial fund to assist nurses who have never been on a mission before. She hoped the experience would ignite a passion for volunteering.
The inaugural Jo’s Nurses mission was Feb 23 – March 2, 2013 with Guatemala Village Health. Applications were solicited and four nurses selected: JP Denham, Kathryn McCarty, Wendy Clarke and Stephanie Saldivar. Sue Averill RN accompanied and supervised both weeks. All nurses attended planning meetings and packing parties prior to the trip. GVH historically had difficulties recruiting nurses for their trips and welcomed the skills Jo’s Nurses brought to the teams.
THE TRIP: The first week was to the Rio Dulce area in the eastern part of Guatemala and second week to Monterico, south of Guatemala City. GVH has “adopted” a dozen villages around these two cities and brings teams of medical and dental personnel three times a year. Additionally, local representatives provide ongoing support monthly with medications for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension as well as ante-natal checks and vitamin supplements.
In the five clinics the first week and four clinics the second week, Jo’s Nurses triaged up to 80+ patients per day, taught group visits for Gastritis/Headache/Body Pains, worked in lab and pharmacy, and assisted in the children’s program with weights and measure, fluoride dental treatment, toothbrushing and Vitamin A/Albendazole/Multivitamin administration.
Clinics were conducted in health posts, schools and once in a pastor’s home. Living conditions were generally comfortable, but remote and occasionally rugged. Transportation was safe – vans, small boats, walking and in the open back of transport trucks to arrive at the villages. All supplies were brought from Seattle by the volunteers.
THE COST: The four nurses each paid $250 toward expenses and One Nurse paid the remainder : $9117 – $1000 = $8115 total trip cost
SUPPORT: Swedish Hospital certified Jo’s Nurses as educational, certificates were awarded for 40 hours of Continuing Education and nurses were able to use Education Leave for their time off in lieu of using vacation or leave without pay.
THE IMPACT: The teams cared for 600 – 700 patients during the two weeks, some with significant illnesses and many with chronic diseases. All four nurses felt their experience was life changing. All expressed interest in repeated volunteering, and JP life goal is to live and work internationally with his wife and 4 children.
NEXT STEPS: Our next Jo’s Nurses trip is tentatively planned for November 2013 with one of the original Jo’s Nurses mentoring the next group of first mission nurses. We hope to continue that cycle of learning and mentoring. Jo’s Nurses needs financial support to continue, please consider donating on our website to allow this program to thrive.