News

Posted by: Date: October 12, 2014 In: ,

Nursing Students With—and on—a Mission

PLU Nursing students Madison Gatterman, left, and Sarah Jamieson taught basic healthcare and dental hygiene to young children at a Haitian orphanage. (Photo courtesy of Gatterman and Jamieson)

PLU Nursing students Madison Gatterman, left, and Sarah Jamieson taught basic healthcare and dental hygiene to young children at a Haitian orphanage. (Photo courtesy of Gatterman and Jamieson)

Juniors Return to Haiti to Teach at an Orphanage
and Encounter an Actual Medical Outbreak

By Brenna Sussman ’15
PLU Marketing & Communications Student Worker

PLU Nursing students Madison Gatterman and Sarah Jamieson recently traveled to Quanaminthe, Haiti, as part of a mission team offering medical support and education at an orphanage—and unexpectedly ended up in the middle of a real-life medical crisis.

During their trip, Chikungunya Fever broke out. Villagers and mission workers, including Jamieson’s father, were stricken. Working alongside registered nurses, Gatterman and Jamieson helped treat the fever patients, giving them sponge baths and distributing Tylenol and Advil.

It was an extreme opportunity to demonstrate a practical application of—and love for—nursing. And both women, juniors in PLU’s BSN program, say the trip changed their outlook on healthcare and education.

Three years ago the students took a similar trip, which was similarly inspiring. “I didn’t realize it until much later, but my first trip to Haiti in 2011 really had a great influence on my decision to become a nurse,” Gatterman said. “I knew that I wanted to work somewhere in the medical field, but after reflecting on my experiences with the nurses I worked with in Haiti, I realized they had a big influence on my decision.”

Madison Gatterman and Sarah Jamieson

Jamieson and Gatterman reconnect at PLU. (Photo: John Struzenberg ’16)

On this trip, aside from the fever crisis, Gatterman and Jamieson spent most of their time as part of a 12-member team at the Maison Agneux de Orphelinat orphanage, where they taught basic healthcare and dental hygiene to young children: They taught proper tooth-brushing techniques; handed out toothbrushes; and gave daily classes on first aid, anatomy and physiology.“This task [teaching health classes] was very important to us,” Jamieson said. “We realized from our first trip to Haiti in 2011 that access to healthcare is not a reality for most Haitians. If we can give these kids the tools to know what to do in situations, they will be able to contribute to society in valuable ways.”

Both women said they also formed special bonds with their fellow mission workers and the people of Haiti. “Haiti is a very difficult place to be,” Jamieson said. “But the people make all the sacrifices worth it.”

They both hope to use their degrees to continue helping people worldwide after graduating, and they both said they came back from Haiti with a renewed appreciation for the education they receive at PLU. “I gained a new perspective on the privileged life I live,” Gatterman said.

The trip was organized through an organization called NEHLM, Nord Est Haiti Lutheran Mission. The nonprofit organization is co-sponsored by the students’ church, Lamb of God Lutheran Church.