ANN ARBOR—In a country where 25 percent of the total population is HIV positive and life expectancy is only 42 years old, one University of Michigan graduate nursing student will use her medical knowledge to make a huge impact in a very remote corner of the world.
Just two days after finishing winter term at U-M, Allana Richmond of Ypsilanti, Mich., will leave for Africa. She will have the opportunity to get firsthand nursing experience at the Chidamoyo Christian Hospital in Northwest Zimbabwe. More than five hours from a major city, Chidamoyo is a 65-bed hospital providing inpatient and outpatient care. The majority of Chidamoyo patients are treated for AIDS and tuberculosis.
During her eight-week stay, Richmond will participate in a clinical experience supervised by missionary nurse and midwife Kathy McCarty. She anticipates providing care and treatment for many patients who are seen at the clinic and hospital. She will also help with outreach clinics, AIDS home-care teams, and plan and implement health education and primary care education for patients and staff.
The U.S.-based Church of Christ established the Chidamoyo Christian Hospital in 1968. McCarty has run the hospital for the past eight years, seven of which with no doctor on staff. Chidamoyo is based on family centered care using a nurse-managed framework rather than a medical model. Under the nursing model, care-givers do not just look at the ailment and administer treatment. They look at how the disease or injury is affecting the person and work through the ailment with the patient and family. At Chidamoyo, family members are encouraged to stay with the patient during their hospitalization and actually administer the primary care under nursing supervision.
"I'm really excited to see the nursing model at work and how it blends with family centered care," says Richmond.
"I hope she gains a new or enriched perspective of a very strong primary health care model that is nurse-managed in rural Zimbabwe," says Prof. Joanne Pohl of the U-M School of Nursing. "She will also learn much about HIV AIDS in a country where it is at an epidemic level. I know she will learn new ways of managing health related problems with very limited resources. She will also learn, however, a very strong health promotion program through immunizations and outreach. This is a real strength in Zimbabwe, and one in which nursing has a lead role." Pohl helped arrange and organize Richmond's trip to Zimbabwe.
Richmond is currently receiving polio and typhoid vaccinations and will take anti-malaria pills during her entire stay. She is no stranger to medical missionary work. She recently spent six months in El Salvador where she helped open a medical facility.
"Each experience I have working overseas changes me. I don't really realize the impact until I come home and reflect. I am not sure how this trip will change my life, but I know it will," says Richmond. "There is much to be gained when working with the under-served. It has been my experience that I receive more than I give."
"This will no doubt be a very profound experience for Allana as she plans her career and professional life," says Pohl. "I suspect she may be someone who will commit to some international work in the long run. Even if that is not the case, she will bring home many important lessons about resources, serving a very needy population, and advanced clinical skills that she may not have had the opportunity to experience here in the United States. These are often life transforming experiences for students. The School of Nursing is committed to promoting experiences nationally and internationally that will prepare our graduates for careers in today's incredibly complicated global health care arena."
Richmond received funding for her trip through U-M's School of Nursing, Rackham School of Graduate Studies and U-M's Center for Education of Women. She will receive some course credit for her work and will present a lecture to other nursing students when she returns. Richmond will also be available for other talks, lectures and discussions upon request.
To find out more about the Chidamoyo Christian Hospital, sign on to www.chidamoyo.com.
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