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Ozzie Hunter, SIUE School of Nursing instructor, travelled to the Dominican Republic to take part in an inspirational experience. During July 2012, Ozzie partnered with the World Pediatric Project (WPP) and 24 other nurses to enhance nursing education in Latin America with the ultimate goal to provide better care to kids being served in children's hospitals.
The WPP, whose headquarters are split between Philadelphia and St. Louis, offered employees of Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis the opportunity to apply for this international project. Ozzie, a part-time flight nurse for Cardinal Glennon and a 23-year veteran of pediatric work, applied for the project and was selected out of more than 100 nurses to participate.
The WPP nurse participants were in the Dominican Republic hospital from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. assisting their nurses. They had three days of theory and lecture before working collaboratively in clinical settings. The participants of the WPP taught the Dominican Republic nurses at the children's hospital how illnesses are assessed in the United States and how they could implement tactics using the resources they have readily available.
Ozzie, who is fluent in Spanish, was not given a medical translator during his time with the WPP. Because he could overcome the language barrier, he helped to make the nurses more accepting of the information that the WPP participants were trying to relay. "Fortunately, I was able to bring cohesiveness between the instructors and the participants because I was able to speak directly with the Dominican nurses," said Ozzie. "They saw me as one of them."
Ozzie explained that the learning experience was a two-way street. Not only did the WPP nurses share important information with the nurses from the Dominican Republic, those nurses taught the WPP participants about common Dominican Republic illnesses and health concerns that are not as common in the United States. Two common health problems in the Dominican Republic are malnourishment, and burns. The nurses working with the World Pediatric Project were active in helping to treat, and teach solutions to, these avoidable ailments.
"During this project, I grew as a person to be extremely appreciative of what we have here," Ozzie said. "You might think we have it all in the United States, but the respect that we have as nurses didn't happen overnight. It took baby steps for us to be empowered, and it's going to take baby steps for those in the Dominican Republic to achieve empowerment. They were appreciative that we acknowledged the care they provide with what little resources they have. The experience was unforgettable."
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