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Neonatal Nurse Provides Expertise and Learns Much Along the Way

Posted By Kylee Nelson, NICU Nurse and Project HOPE Volunteer on June 6, 2017

Labels: Macedonia , Women’s and Children’s Health, Health Care Education, Health Systems Strengthening, Volunteers

Neonatal Nurse Volunteer in Macedonia

Kylee Nelson is a Project HOPE volunteer who served at the University Clinical Center for Pediatrics in Skopje, Macedonia, where she provided training to nurses through continuing education and side-by-side modeling. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Kylee graduated with a degree in Biology from Clemson University and then completed an accelerated nursing program at Emory University in Atlanta. She is now a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse.

I always knew that I wanted to go abroad somewhere and help out, however I had no idea what that entailed. Last summer (2016), I started feeling the need to get out of my own bubble and my own comfort zone and see the world in a different way, by helping those who truly need it. I also knew that by helping others, they would be helping me. I wanted to learn from others and see how people around the world operate different than I'm used to operating. That is when I started researching places online and found this amazing opportunity with Project HOPE. Although this is my first Project HOPE mission, I hope it is not my last!

I am the first volunteer from the U.S. to come help in the NICU here in Skopje. It was evident from the start that there is a big need for more education for the nurses. I have been able to do some research and put together a few PowerPoints to share with the nurses. It is always so rewarding when what I teach them actually clicks, and I see them making changes in their day-to-day care of the babies.

Volunteer in Macedonia neonatal clinic

I have given the nurses the educational tools and resources to find answers to questions that they might have. I have also tried to express that while things can go wrong in the NICU, it is still a team effort and if they are starting to become overwhelmed, they should just ask for help – there is nothing wrong with admitting that you need a little help now and again.

When it comes to what they have taught me though, I have definitely received so much more than I ever could have imagined! What they have given me has been so valuable. They have showed me what teamwork, hard work and dedication is truly like. Unfortunately, they don't have the greatest working environment in terms of space and equipment (that will be changing with the opening of the new NICU), but they make the most of it and put their hearts and souls into their work every single day. They have taught me patience and the value of not taking little things for granted. I will be forever grateful for the time that they have given me and everything that I have learned from them along the way.

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