During her five years as a Personal Service Worker, Sarah Rodosky was never short of work.
There is always a demand for employees to fill these positions, and there’s a good reason for that- it’s very hard work. At the bottom of the health care service career path, the abundance of work did not translate into an abundance of opportunity. To move up the chain, Sarah concluded she needed more training so she took the leap and signed up for a Nursing degree at Trent University, following the compressed program which wraps up in just 28 months. Now in the program’s second year, Sarah has completed the community based nursing practise component of the program. This requires students to get out into the field in a community setting such as public health departments, public clinics, telehealth or schools to deliver health education. There is also an international option, where students work in a public health situation in Honduras. The program is expensive, and students must raise $2000 to pay their expenses for the 11 day trip. During their stay the group lived in the local hostel and received a warm reception from the community.
Last month, seventeen Trent Nursing students accompanied by two faculty members and three volunteers travelled to Reyes Irene School for Girls located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras as a member of a Medical Brigade. Each student had their own agenda which they had developed with faculty approval, where they explored a specific topic of interest related to health promotion or population health.
The team of volunteers provided free medical and dental care to students at the school. Sarah’s project focused on maternal health and breast feeding. Her audience consisted of girls ages 15 to 28. Sarah provided health education and promotion using lectures and games seven days a week. Her patrons attend school just one day per week as they hold down jobs to support themselves and their offspring. With an average education level equivalent to Grade six, the jobs they are able to secure are not sophisticated. The young women typically provide domestic services, sell crafts and produce at local markets to earn a living.
The average age for the first maternity for this population is fifteen, so Sarah’s information arrived none too soon. Her students were extremely receptive to the information and eager to learn how to look after their children. The educational experience was not a one-way street: Sarah was amazed at how generous these young women were, despite their own meagre means. She was dismayed at the current living conditions the community faced after the flooding the area has experienced. Many homes were wiped out with the storms leaving residents with little hope of rebuilding..
Upon her return, Sarah has a new appreciation for her circumstances here in Canada. She recognized the serious shortage of health care support, and recent storms have left the community facing water and sanitation issues on top of their regular challenges. While the Trent students were only in the field for eleven days, because of the warmth and receptiveness of the community Sarah felt they made a difference to the community.