Four graduating seniors spent two weeks during the fall semester traveling to small towns and remote regions of Honduras, providing health care to local communities.
Lana Maddox of Cochran, Georgia, came to Georgia College as a transfer student. She knew she wanted go into the medical field and as she got older, she knew nursing was the major for her.
“I knew that I wanted that one-on-one relationship that nurses have with patients,” said Maddox.
The relationship was integral to the seniors’ time in the Central American country. The four undergraduates accompanied by 10 nurse practitioner students, worked together to run makeshift clinics out of churches, schools and even outdoors.
“One of the highlights of the trip was being welcomed with open arms by the Honduran people upon our arrival. We felt like family before the first week was even over,” said Eleni Constantinidis of Milledgeville, Georgia. “It was impactful to help people who desperately needed medical care. The gratitude was apparent in their smiles and hugs.”
Walters, like Constantinidis, had a humbling experience that also allowed her to hone her assessment skills.
“When you’re assessing patients with very limited resources such as not having access to X-rays and labs, you have to figure out how to give these patients the best possible care without expensive medical procedures,” said Walters. “Those experiences will help me now as I assess patients back in the U.S.”
The experience abroad was exactly what Abigail Pickens of Lilburn, Georgia, was seeking when signing up for the Honduras trip.
"I chose this study abroad experience because I wanted to experience health care outside of that in the United States," Pickens said. "I wanted to serve where I was needed alongside my classmates. I was hoping to gain more insight into developing countries' health care and how to care for these patients using basic skills and my education from Georgia College's School of Nursing."
For Madeline Walters of Alpharetta, Georgia, the trip to Honduras was a missing piece to her undergraduate experience at Georgia College.
“It was such a humbling experience working with patients,” said Walters. “Being able to treat and assess local communities and visiting hospitals that get by with the bare minimum—it makes you realize how much we have in the U.S. and to be thankful for what we have.”
Constantinidis says the experience helped her ease into graduation, solidifying her decision to attend the trip, but also her decision to pursue nursing.
“This trip helped me as I progressed toward graduation and my nursing career,” said Constantinidis. “I gained so much more experience as a provider than I have ever had here in the State. We had to dig deep with our assessment skills to figure out what was causing the problem.”
Pickens says the experience working with patients in Honduras have helped her be a better communicator.
"From this trip, I learned more about communication and basic life-saving medications for patients," said Pickens. "I also learned more about assessment, care and plans for each patient."
For the four graduating seniors, jobs marking the beginning of their nursing career, are already set in stone: Walters will work at Northside Hospital in Atlanta; Pickens at Piedmont Atlanta's Emergency Department; Constantinidis at Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville; and Maddox at The Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon.
Walters says the trip to Honduras marked the end of her undergraduate experience, but also combined two passions.
“Throughout my time as a nursing major, I always wanted to find a way to give back,” said Walters. “This was the best of both: gaining skills in nursing while also helping others in the process.”