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SAU Nursing Program Works with Honduras

The St. Ambrose community helped change the life of a young, 14-year-old boy from Honduras. The boy lives in a fishing community and due to a fishing accident, he lost his eyesight in one eye. To protect his good eye and the only eye that he can see with, he was given a set of prescribed sunglasses. Another member of the community, an elderly lady, also received a set of glasses which allowed her to see her needle and thread again. These eyeglasses were two of the 300 pairs donated by the St. Ambrose Nursing Department.

“For people struggling to make a dollar a day, glasses are a luxury,” the director of the St. Ambrose University Institute for Person-Centered Care and associate nursing professor Ann Garton said.

For the past three semesters, the St. Ambrose University Nursing Department has been partnering with Global Brigades to offer virtual learning experiences to nursing students. Global Brigades is the largest student-led, non-profit movement for global health and holistic development in third world countries.

“Through this program we can offer students service learning that builds the competencies for our future professionals to be positive change agents,” Garton said. “This opportunity applies the knowledge you learn in courses here at SAU through actionable services to improve the health and well being of those living in a third world country.”

Garton has studied the impact Global Brigades and virtual learning has on students and its positive affects.

“The results overwhelmingly showed a positive impact on the future of their [the students’] practice,” Garton said. “The experience enhanced their knowledge of disparities specific to policy, race, culture and socioeconomics.”

Many students agree with Garton’s findings and have expressed their gratitude towards the program.

“I love working with Global Brigades,” nursing student Carly McAllister said. “I feel it is such a unique experience and a great opportunity for nursing students to learn how systems of health care around the world work to improve the well being of those they serve.”

“It [Global Brigades] provides a special opportunity for us to learn about how the healthcare system differs or is similar to the United States and what we see every day,” nursing student Nadia Vazquez said. “It is truly a humbling experience.”

Over spring break, Garton traveled to Honduras to help and assist the community health workers in-person. During this trip, she was assessing whether it would be an appropriate learning opportunity to offer students in the future.

Ann Garton hanging out with some of the children while in Honduras.

“As awesome as our virtual program is, it cannot fully replace an in-country experience,” Garton said.

After her time in Honduras, Garton said that a similar trip would be beneficial for students. She has meetings in place to plan for a spring trip in 2024 that will be open to all students. Nursing students in particular are excited for the opportunity.

“I would love to go on the Honduras trip when it becomes available,” nursing student Sidney Little said. “I would like to see first-hand the positive impact of Global Brigades and to help the community after everything we have learned. For me, this is why I got into nursing in the first place- to help others throughout the world.”

For more information on the work Global Brigades is doing in Honduras and around the world, check out their website. Potential trip and/ or study aboard details for next spring will be announced at a later date.