Deanna Pilkenton, CNM, MSN, an Instructor of Nurse Midwifery at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, TN took two nursing students to volunteer in two women's and children's health clinics supported by Project HOPE in Herrera and Monte Plata, Dominican Republic.
It was my first time as a Vanderbilt University School of Nursing faculty member leading a group of student volunteers in the Dominican Republic with Project HOPE. What a fantastic first experience! Two nurse-midwifery students, Anna Calhoun and Emily Seimer, and I recently spent ten days in the DR with the fabulous Teresa Narvaez, Project HOPE's Country Director in the DR, as our on-the-ground expert chaperon.
We spent the majority of the time working at the urban Herrera Clinic. We participated in prenatal and postpartum care, home visits and community education. The clinic staff and medical providers were welcoming and generous with their time and expertise. The patients and community members of Herrera were fabulous — allowing us to ask questions, observe andexperience a bit of their culture. Getting to know the people of the Herrera community, participating in home visits and observing clinic operations were definite highlights of the trip.
In addition to our experience in Herrera, Teresa also arranged several other valuable experiences for us. We toured the Monte Plata Clinic in the rural town of the same name. We were able to see first-hand construction of the new clinic in Haina, just outside the capital city of Santo Domingo. And we were able to attend the National Vaccination Week inaugural event at a local school in Santo Domingo, where many prominent Ministry of Health representatives spoke and where we were able to meet the Minister of Health himself, Wilfredo Hidalgo!
Our Project HOPE volunteer stint was a great experience for all of us, students and teacher alike. Our objectives were to participate in outpatient clinical work and have a valuable cultural exchange. Teresa and Matt, the Project HOPE staff and the beautiful people of the Herrera community made this an overwhelming success. We look forward to returning next year!
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