December 2023 • Volume 17, No. #12

From the Editor

Holiday greetings to you!

December is traditionally a time of celebration and gift-giving, sparkling lights and holiday festivities, and we heartily endorse all those things. But it’s also the time of the winter solstice, a time to turn within, get quiet and consider what really matters as the world heads into the darkest days of winter before the light returns.

In that quieter mood, we once again bring your attention to NIFA’s favorite nonprofit, Mission to Heal (M2H): a global medical missions agency that heals underserved people and trains local practitioners in the most remote and needy areas of the world. We find the organization extremely inspiring.

Mission to Heal was founded by Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, a professor of surgery, microbiology, tropical medicine and more at George Washington University, and a Member of the American College of Surgeons’ Academy of Master Surgeon Educators. Dr. Glenn is also a NIFA faculty member and an eminently practical guy with a wonderful sense of humor. Dr. Glenn has led medical mission trips to regions all over the globe for 40+ years. Now, with the help of the Mobile Surgical Units (MSUs), an operating room on wheels, M2H brings the operating room to some of the most isolated places on the planet.

Mission to Heal is built on educational missions – they don’t do short-term trips and leave without providing any real support or resources. Instead, everyone who joins their missions takes on the role of teacher. The goal is to develop an economical and sustainable system that provides high-quality ongoing surgical care to populations in need, not with endless funding, but with ingenuity and education.

In the Spotlight this month is Katy Hastings, BSN, RNFA, a NIFA graduate who went to Kenya with Mission to Heal this year.

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

Finally, we wish every one of you heartwarming and enjoyable holidays with those you hold dear.


Julie Lancaster, Editor

Photo courtesy of Mission to Heal

Mission to Heal Update

We have just received this update from Samuel Jangala of Mission to Heal:

Mission to Heal is glad to be back in full swing after the pandemic, and we are hoping for more of the same as we go into 2024. we are excited to be going back to Kenya with Winds of Change Foundation in the Lake Turkana region next month.

Our focus this year is to build upon last year and continue to bring an educational and transformational experience to the medical professionals who work there. Along with Dr. Geelhoed, we are recruiting other medical professionals that bring specialties that are valuable to the communities we serve. If you or someone you know would like to join Dr. Geelhoed in Kenya or Uganda in 2024, check out the mission dates we have coming up!

Thank you for your continued support of Mission to Heal as we bring sustainable surgical care to the most remote regions of the world. Have a joyful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Photo courtesy of Katy Hastings, who appears third from left.

Volunteer for a Mission

Would you like to make some memories, acquire some tangible medical or surgical skills and teach what you know? Dr. Glenn needs volunteers! Use your skills, time and resources to help those most in need as well as teach their caretakers. For this year’s missions, M2H is in need of a variety of participants – some medical students, some medical professionals, and a few non-medical volunteers. Whatever your background or expertise, you are invited to apply. Yes, there is a cost to you, but past volunteers overwhelmingly report you will find the cost well worth the investment. Check out M2H’s FAQ page to learn more and to apply.

Can’t Volunteer? Consider Donating Directly.

If you can swing even a small contribution, please consider donating to Mission to Heal. Two billion people worldwide have no access to safe, surgical care. Where else will you find an organization as passionate about surgery as you are, that is dedicated to healing the sick and injured and training local practitioners in the most remote and needy areas of the world? Donate here.

In The Spotlight: Katy Hastings


Student Status
Graduated from NIFA’s RNFA program in 10/2022

City & State
San Diego, CA

Current Position
Operating room nurse / charge nurse

What Mission to Heal mission did you go on?
April 2023 to Kenya

Was this your first mission?
No, I’ve been doing various medical missions for 20 years. This was my first mission as an RNFA graduate and my first with Mission to Heal.

How did you decide to go on this mission?
I had been listening to the webcasts Dr. Glenn did with NIFA. I liked what he said about training being a big part of his mission – really focusing on training the local staff. On some of the past medical missions I’ve gone on, the team would go, do a hundred surgeries, and get out. That can be fine, too, depending on the needs of the area. But the focus on training really spoke to me since I had just gotten a new scope of practice.

How did it differ from the other missions you’ve been on?
Since I had a bigger scope of practice, I was able to teach more. I was able to use my extended scope and share my clinical knowledge with local staff who were so appreciative of the opportunity to learn and practice their new skills. We had two clinics in the two weeks we were there. Our team included Dr. Glenn plus a retired surgeon and a recent medical school graduate. Dr. Glenn told us, “We will not be doing procedures unless there’s a local partner who takes the lead on the procedure. We’re there to support and train them.”

What’s an example of your experience?
In the first clinic, there were two students – I believe they were both nurse practitioners – who run this remote clinic. Every day after the clinic closed we would sit around and do a debrief, talk about interesting patients and cases. They were so grateful and excited. One of them said, “I had a patient before with that problem and didn’t know how to handle it, and now I know how to handle it. I’m going to go back to my village knowing how to deal with it!” At the end of the week we gave them a dental starter kit. They were so excited and grateful to get their own toolkit. We’re still in touch on WhatsApp, checking in with them socially and professionally.

What would you say to other RNFAs who are considering going on a mission with Mission to Heal?
If anyone’s interested in teaching and using their skills, it’s definitely a great program. Sam is the volunteer coordinator. Mission to Heal is recruiting. They are still recovering from COVID; the mission I went on was one of the first if not the first since the pandemic. Your readers can feel free to contact me; my email is [email protected]

Learn more about volunteer opportunities…

Photos courtesy of Katy Hastings. Top: Katy with Dr. Glenn; bottom: relaxing outside the MSU.

Jobs Front

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

NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Thursday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm

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.