Reading Week became teaching week for Trent/Fleming School of Nursing students completing their community health placement.
Ten students traveled with Trent Nursing professor Dr. Patti Tracey to Honduras to lead health promotion and education projects at the Reyes Irene School for Girls in the capital city Tegucigalpa, at PREPACE—a school and home for children with disabilities, and in the two rural villages of el Hato and el Suyatillo.
As part of the placement, second-year student Gregory McGarry delivered a health promotion project aimed at educating local residents about mosquito-borne illnesses. Over the course of the trip, Mr. McGarry delivered five presentations, sharing useful information about the types of illnesses mosquitoes carry, prevention measures, and what do if a mosquito-borne disease is contracted.
“It was definitely challenging, emotionally and physically, but every single minute of it was worth it,” says Mr. McGarry. “We were welcomed so warmly, and it was so interesting to work with the kids. They face a lot of challenges, but there were happy moments too that we got to share.”
Mr. McGarry’s project on mosquitos was one of a number of topics the students taught based on suggestions from the Honduran hosts.
Upon returning from Honduras, Mr. McGarry reflected on the collaborative approach of the placement, something he credits to Professor Tracey, who believes medical missions should be rooted in reciprocity.
“Something Dr. Tracey says stuck. That the world truly is a small place,” says Mr. McGarry. “For my career, if I nurse in Canada and I’m sure I will, it’s important to keep in mind the context of what’s going on both in the world and in your own community in terms of people’s struggles.”
The experience has left him with an increased interest in the career possibilities of working in global health, and a heightened awareness of how privileged Canadians are in terms of the health care system. He recommends any student contemplating applying for the placement not to hesitate.
“It’s normal to feel anxious because it’s something new, but new things can bring that. The main thing is to be open, to ask the community you’re going to what they need, and to do research about those communities beforehand,” says Mr. McGarry. “At the end of the day? Definitely do it.”