At the beginning of January, senior student nurse, Miranda Jahnke traveled to Guatemala and spent two weeks learning and exploring the culture through a community health lens. As a volunteer coordinator she led a team of forty students from UW-Eau Claire, who under the direction of healthcare professionals, set up free clinics in communities and remote villages. Working alongside doctors, the volunteers were able to help diagnose and treat patients based on symptoms presented. Miranda remarked that this experience included both a clinical and classroom component, “The doctors that worked with us challenged and questioned us, making sure that we knew exactly what was going on with the patients. They also gave us research assignments related to conditions that are prevalent in the society, which we then shared with the whole group.”
Of course, the volunteers faced challenges when working with community members, such as language barriers. However, Miranda stated “with all that being said, this trip to Guatemala helped prepare me for my career in nursing in many different areas. I learned to communicate with other medical professionals, to shift my assessment based on the population I was working with, and most importantly, I learned to never stop asking questions.”
Taking chances and exploring new opportunities is what Miranda loves to do the most. “I took a chance with VIDA Volunteer two years ago and I was able to expand and explore new opportunities in both Nicaragua and Guatemala that have forever changed my life.”
Upon graduation in May, Miranda hopes to pursue a career as a traveling nurse or work on a critical care unit. She recommends that, “those thinking about taking advantage of immersion experiences through an organization like VIDA Volunteer or want to study abroad, please do it. I promise you that you will not regret your decision. Find the time, find the money, and go!”
She concluded, “One of our doctors said this during our final farewell meeting that will stick with me forever, ‘The eyes cannot see what the mind does not know.’ Never stop learning, never stop exploring and never stop loving those around you.”
According to a recent Facebook post, January’s teams from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, and UW-La Crosse attended over 2200 patients in the Medical clinics, 229 in the Veterinary clinics and 224 in the dental clinics.