December 2017 • Volume 10, No. 12
From the Editor

In this, the season of giving, we highlight the deeper meaning of giving, which people in health care tend to understand very well.

Called to help a fellow human being in need, we give the gift of our caring, skill, attention and/or money, and experience the inherent rewards of that exchange.

Take the Medical Mission work of our friend and RNFA program instructor Dr. Glenn Geelhoed and the organization he has built, Mission to Heal. NIFA contributes to this organization on an ongoing basis because it does so much good, so efficiently.

Mission to Heal is a nonprofit global medical mission agency that heals underserved people and trains local practitioners in the most remote and needy areas of the world. Often working against a backdrop of civil war, refugee camps, poverty, and indifference, M2H teams bring hope to the “bottom billion” of the world’s population.

In this issue we profile Tina Modillas, CRNFA, a graduate of NIFA’s RNFA program, who accompanied Dr. Glenn on a medical mission last January to the Philippines. The photo above shows Cristina and Dr. Glenn performing surgery in Mission to Heal’s Mobile Surgical Unit.

At the end of this month NIFA’s own CEO will embark on his first medical mission, accompanying Dr. Glenn to the “Heart of the Philippines,” an island called Marinduque.

Scroll down for jobs and NIFA’s favorite links.

May your holidays be bright!


Julie Lancaster, Editor

Mortality and Morbidity on Planet Earth

Excerpts from a two-part article by Dr. Glenn Geelhood.

These are the top five causes of mortality on Planet Earth – what I call a DAMMM shame.  No, they are not heart disease, cancer, stroke – you have to be (1) wealthy, and (2) live long enough to develop any of these degenerative diseases of the US top Bills of Mortality.  The first through fifth causes of death on earth still – if you can believe it – are easily treatable and all preventable and mostly affect children under five years of age.

2–Acute Respiratory (Pneumonia and TB)

This is what MORTALITY is mostly about on this Earth from pre-history to present for the majority–and remains stuck in the Bottom Billion.

The article goes on to explore morbidity (vs. mortality), cure vs. control of medical conditions, and how surgery fits in. He concludes with the following:

The Mission to Heal Mobile Manifesto
Mission to Heal has a policy of FPF= the Furthest Peoples First. After delivering surgical care to the remote people in need of it rather than expecting (or demanding) that the uninformed make their way to it on their own across barriers of language, politics, religion, ethnicity/culture, and insurmountable economics, we bring the operating room to the people and both create and service the demand that these neglected peoples are worthy of surgical care.

Then BACKFILL from the remote inaccessibles to the more allegedly accessible who have fewer of these barrier burdens to cross, and implement whatever political and economic solutions are tried and evidence-based proven. . . . The lessons learned from remote surgical care are in doing 1) More, for 2) Most, with 3) far fewer resources–a subject better taught by the developing world to the profligate consumers of the First World.

We cannot nor should not build a proliferation of idle tertiary medical centers around the destitute globe expending far too much on stuff instead of skills which are far more communicable and might be applied more appropriately.  That is why our Mobile Surgical Units are designed not as colonial conquests for care delivery from first to third worlds (a global experiment previously attempted and found wanting) but are mobile international medical education vehicles for lessons learned BOTH WAYS.


Click here to read the entire two-part article on the Mission to Heal blog. 

NIFA’s Gift to You

Our gift to YOU is a free copy of Dr. Geelhoed’s book, Surgery and Healing in the Developing World.
Available as a 485-page PDF, this book is a collection of “How To” articles from 50 authors, with titles like “Anesthesia in the Third World,” “Basic Obstetrics and Obstetric Surgery in a Mission Setting,” and much, much more.

NIFA has exclusive rights to distribute this book. To download your copy, please go to this page.

Medical Mission Opportunities

We hope you’ll consider a medical mission at some point in your nursing career, either with Dr. Geelhoed’s Mission to Heal or with one of many other organizations. The work can be arduous and conditions poor, but the rewards are immeasurable. lists more than 1000 organizations and allows you to search using filters such as your health care specialty, global health issues, and area of the world. The organization also offers training curriculum, a Global Missions Health Conference, stories from the field and audio resources for those exploring missions work.

Graduate Spotlight: Tina Modillas

Credentials:  CRNFA

Student Status:  Graduated from NIFA’s RNFA program in January 2009
City & State:
Rocklin, CA

In early 2017, Tina Modillas accompanied Dr. Glenn Geelhoed and Mission to Heal, serving as a first assistant on a two-week medical mission to the Philippines. First in the village of Mayoyao and later in the city of Alfonso Lista, the team conducted many thyroid surgeries, hysterectomies, and operated on “lumps and bumps.” (In the photo above, Tina and 4th year medical student Belaine Eyob work on a patient inside the Mobile Surgical Unit.)

“This was my first medical mission,” Tina says. “But I always travel in third world countries for vacation. I’m a hiker so I go on a lot of treks, and most of the beautiful treks are in the third world countries, so I see places like this, but not to this extent—that we see the people every day and we actually interact with them and they tell us about their lives and give us truly a wonderful experience. . . . It was a very, very good experience; an eye-opener, that’s for sure.”

Tina has signed up for another medical mission with Mission to Heal. She will be going in January 2018 to serve people in the islands of western Philippines.

Click to read Tina’s story.


Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this newsletter are strictly those of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NIFA. NIFA does not give any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of statements made by our contributors and does not accept any liability for error or omission. It is the responsibility of all perioperative personnel to work within and adhere to their facility bylaws and individual scope of practice.