From the Editor
Julie Lancaster
Although almost everyone drawn to nursing cares about helping people, in this issue we’re pleased to feature a couple of individuals whose good work is downright inspiring. Enjoy!

Julie Lancaster, Editor


NIFA Faculty Member Dr. Glenn Geelhoed Wages Peace through Medicine

You may have been in a NIFA SutureStar workshop taught by Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, or may have just read about him in a past issue of this e-news. He is a professor of surgery, international medical education, microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine at George Washington University and has led more than 200 healthcare missions to developing countries.
Turns out his contributions go beyond the operating room and lecture hall. As reported by Team Rubicon, an organization that mobilizes medical and emergency personnel for disaster response, Dr. Geelhoed brokered a medical peace initiative between two warring tribes in early 2010 in South Sudan.

Over the course of multiple missions to South Sudan, Geelhoed had observed that a key cause of the tribes’ conflict was infertility and resultant diminishing population in one of the tribes, which had led tribe members to kidnap children and steal brides from the other tribe, which then resulted in retaliation.

“If you think that a surgeon talking international policy toward peace is stepping beyond the limits of his (or her) expertise, what would be the purpose of applying medical techniques to tropical illnesses when in fact hostility is their single biggest health hazard?” the report quotes Geelhoed as saying.

“As part of Dr. Geelhoed’s ceasefire agreement–which has reportedly held since January 2010–Team Rubicon will deliver a shipping container of medical equipment and a team of medical professionals to outfit clinics and train medics that will serve both the [tribes]-addressing the infertility issue at the source,” reads the Team Rubicon report of the Feb. 2011 mission. Click to read the whole article and watch a video report, including Dr. Geelhoed’s comments.

Student Spotlight

Name: Sandy Sargent
Credentials: MSN, RN, NP/C
City and State:  Phoenix, AZ
Student Status: Current student in RNFA program
Current Job: Circulator, gynecology/urology department, Mayo Clinic Hospital, Phoenix, AZ

Path to RNFA: I grew up in Illinois and got my Associate’s degree from Kaskaskia College, Centralia, IL. I worked in labor and delivery for seven years, surgery for two years, went back to pediatrics and then to family. I’ve just graduated with an NP degree from St. Louis University. Following certification I will be a Family NP (FNP). One reason for taking the NIFA training is to make myself more marketable; that way, I will be able to do half clinic, half surgery. 

Mission Work: I’ve worked five missions over the past three years in the Dominican Republic through Arizona Dominican Medical Friends and one in Nicaragua through a nonprofit called Esperança. I also volunteer monthly with Interfaith Cooperative Ministries giving free health screenings for the poor. Sandy suturing I specialize in gynecology, so for the foreign missions I go off with my surgeon and we set up for all the surgeries we’re going to do. We see the patients pre-operatively, operatively and post-operatively. In my recent trip to Nicaragua, the surgeon and I completed 25 major gynecologic surgeries in five days.

In those environments, I serve a multi-purpose role, functioning as the circulator, scrub, and surgical assistant. I got my initial first assistant training on the job on these missions some time ago. In fact, the reason I got involved with NIFA was that the surgeons were teaching me their way to do things, and I wanted to learn the right way to do them. I took the hands-on 6-day workshop in Denver this January.

We have different ways of doing things here in America and sometimes medical personnel in other countries don’t know a lot about sterile technique.  The first year I went, I was appalled. I opened a sterilized pack and it had a bug in it. A girl there said, “If the bug is dead, it’s sterile. If it flies away, it’s not.” They re-use a lot; they wash and re-use sponges. We go over there and teach them sterile technique and how we set up.

I love to donate my time to teach others. I learn from the people there and they learn from me so we all walk away having satisfaction. There’s so much we take for granted in the United States and I think every physician, nurse or aide should take a medical mission trip and then they will realize our life isn’t so bad after all.

Get ‘Em Young!

Shortage of health-care workers in the future? Maybe not.

As part of its annual Children’s Fun and Fitness Festival at Port Huron Hospital, Port Huron, MI, children put on scrubs, caps and surgical masks to perform “surgery” on a fake stomach, the Times Herald reported. They got to keep the caps and masks.

A scavenger hunt through the hospital to look for “internal organs” was another of the hands-on activities designed to get kids engaged in health-related topics. Click here to read the Times-Herald article.