December 2020 • Volume 14, No. 12

From the Editor

Although the holidays will be solitary for many this year, the traditions of this season offer light and hope to a weary world.

And so does NIFA’s favorite charity. Mission to Heal (M2H) is a nonprofit global medical missions agency that heals underserved people in the most remote and needy areas of the world, training local practitioners along the way. With this issue, as we have done for many Decembers, we cast a spotlight on M2H’s inspiring work, which our company supports year-round.

But this time you can hear the story right from the horse’s mouth! M2H’s founder, Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, NIFA faculty member and professor of surgery at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington D.C., presented an online talk for NIFA last month about M2H’s work. Read about that below.

In the Spotlight this month we feature a few NIFA grads who have gone on surgical missions with Dr. Glenn in past years. Their experiences were life-changing for them as well as for the patients they served; if you are contemplating a medical mission—and even if you’re not—you will find inspiration in their stories.

Scroll down for jobs we’ve collected for you and NIFA’s favorite links.

All of us at NIFA wish you restful and rewarding holidays, with expanded horizons in 2021!

Julie Lancaster, Editor

Photo of hands and candle: Ai Nhan on Unsplash


Dr. Glenn Geelhoed’s Talk to NIFA Students and Staff

On November 19, Dr. Glenn Geelhoed spoke to NIFA students and staff for about an hour as part of our Afterhour Webinars.

Dr. Glenn is a highly educated surgeon with “more degrees than a thermometer,” as he puts it, and an adventurous, irreverent bent. He has a knack for inventing practical, effective approaches for all kinds of challenges, including delivering surgical services to people in the most remote regions of the world.

>In my opinion, it’s well worth carving an hour out of your Netflix or Hulu viewing time to check out this video. A few of the topics:

  • Why an approach of colonialism in medical missions doesn’t work.
  • Why M2H’s Mobile Surgical Units are built with triple-point failure engineering.
  • M2H surgical teams’ model of training their replacements not just to succeed them but supersede them to carry on the burden of care after they leave.
  • What can be done with resourcefulness, ingenuity and improvisation.
  • What kind of motivation you need to bring to a medical mission.

See the video here…

New Book: Furthest People First

Dr. Geelhoed’s latest book is available through your local bookstore or at many online retailers.

Furthest Peoples First tracks Mission to Heal’s latest missions in three African transects during the first seven months of 2019. With powerful stories of overland treks and culturally rich photojournalism, Dr. Geelhoed shares the people he met and the challenges his team faced—and the determination, patience, and partnerships that make his work successful, rewarding, and essential. Readers will be surprised, shocked—and uplifted—by how this team persevered in the face of countless unimaginable obstacles.

Furthest Peoples First is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Mission to Heal news

This year M2H’s efforts were hampered by COVID-19. Back in March they had a small team of volunteers in Uganda getting ready to move their Mobile Surgical Unit to Kenya, but they were forced to cut the mission short and return home to plan future missions.

“If we don’t continue to plan, we won’t be prepared to start serving again when the opportunity arises,” said Karen Pimpo, U.S. Project Manager. “We want to be ready to go.”

High on the list of potential missions for 2021 is Uganda. Mission to Heal has assembled a list of educational resources and reflections focusing on their work in Uganda that can help potential volunteers orient themselves to the mission site. Read more…

The forced hiatus has enabled Dr. Geelhoed to give more talks to educators, nonprofit organizations and medical students on global health and sustainable medical missions, and to do more writing.

One fascinating article on M2H’s website is “What We Can Learn from Africa’s COVID Response.” Written in mid-November 2020, the article delves into the reasons that Africa has been able to keep its numbers of COVID-19 infections low compared with numbers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Read more…

Photo: Mission to Heal

Mission to Heal Needs You!

Graduates of NIFA’s RNFA program are enthusiastically invited to apply as volunteers. Although the schedule for 2021 is not yet finalized, it’s a good idea to start the application process early. Apply here.

In the Spotlight: NIFA Grads and Mission to Heal

In the Spotlight this month we feature a few NIFA grads who have gone on surgical missions with Dr. Glenn in past years.

Leenta Nel, RN, CNOR, RNFA
Victoria, BC

Mission: Central African Republic – 2012

“One vivid memory I have from the mission is the day we converted a wire coat hanger into a catheter introducer. This incident explains how you have to think laterally: you go with what you have, your knowledge and your instincts.” Read more…

Tina Modillas, CRNFA
Rocklin, CA

Mission: Philippines – 2017, 2019

“I used to be wasteful. When I was there I realized that even a paper gown is valuable. It totally changed my practice in that way as soon as I came back. The people over there . . . I can only imagine how they try to work things out with very little compared to us; that we have so much. It truly changed my whole perspective of how we waste in our setup here.” Read more…

These days, Tina is also part of the Mission to Heal team, serving in the role of Mission Lead, Asia.

Erin Griffeth, RN, RNFA, CNOR
Ithica, NY

Mission: Nigeria, 2014

“There are so many things our surgeons want or ‘need’ that are so much more than are really needed. To learn how to do surgery in those conditions was really awesome.” Read more…

Photo above: Erin with Dr. Geelhoed, by Dennis D Steinauer

Amber Rodriguez, RNFA
Casa Grande, AZ

Mission: Ghana, 2013

“Things that we take for granted here, like being able to recommend physical therapy or a consultation for this or that, were impossible in this setting. We just did the best we could.” Read more…

Jobs Front

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

NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Thursday, 8:00am – 4:00pm
Friday, 8:00am – 3:00pm

Closed Dec. 24 and 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:

MD Edge Surgery News: Specialty News and Commentaries, Videos and More
RNFA Scope of Practice by State (PDF)
ACS List of Cases that Require an Assistant at Surgery, 2020 (PDF)
Perioperative Nurse Links (state nursing boards & professional associations)
APRN Nurse Links

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.

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