Experience of a lifetime
CBU senior nursing students to volunteer in Ecuador
For Cape Breton University senior nursing students Morgan McGillivray and Brialee Tighe, the health-care profession is an important part of their life.
The fourth-year students will be among 24 students and four staff members traveling to Quito, Ecuador later this month to visit and volunteer at nursing practices such as medical-surgical, emergency, obstetrics, neonatal, operating rooms and pediatrics.
The students will also have community experiences at seniors day clinics, occupational and physiotherapy clinics, children’s clinics and orphanages. They will also visit an indigenous community to experience other ways of healing and treating medical issues.
McGillivray has high expectations for the experience.
“I know that it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to build on our nursing skills and knowledge and also to learn about the health practices in a culture that is very different from ours,” said McGillivray, a resident of River Ryan.
McGillivray, 21, feels lucky to have the opportunity to participate in the unique experience, especially with her classmates.
“The trip will help me expand my world view, increase my leadership skills and provide me with insight that I can take with me in my future career as a registered nurse.
“We’ve all been looking forward to this trip for so long — we’re excited that it’s finally here.”
This year’s trip isn’t the first time Cape Breton University nursing students have visited Ecuador. Last February, 21 students made a similar trip, spending more than a week in the country, increasing cultural competence and observing health practices in a Third World country.
Belinda Andrea, CBU nursing practice educator, said students gave positive feedback from last year’s trip.
“Many felt it was a lifechanging experience,” she said.
Andrea said the trip is important to the program as the students are completing their last required nursing practice before graduation.
“It allows them to put to practise the knowledge gained over four years and share it with people who are in such great need,” she said. “This experience will be fulfilling 80 hours toward their practicum course requirements.”
Students will leave for Quito on Feb. 20. They will spend 10 days in the country, before returning to Cape Breton on March 3.
In order to make the trip possible, the students held a variety of fundraisers throughout the year, raising close to $70,000.
Like other students, Tighe is preparing for the trip in many different ways, including learning common medical terms in Spanish as well as phrases commonly used.
“The professors that went last year gave us some great information regarding what the trip will be like and what we can expect,” said the Sydney River resident.
The group has also prepared for the trip by gathering equipment to bring with them to Ecuador, either through donations or purchase. The donation list includes school supplies, dental and hygiene products, clothing, and diapers as well as toys for children in an orphanage.
Tighe, 23, considers the trip a high point of the school year.
“We’re so busy during the school year balancing classes, studying, clinical, and preparing for the NCLEX exam and the trip gives us something to keep pushing forward,” said Tighe. “It’s hard to believe that we’ve been fundraising since April and now we’re leaving in less than two weeks.”
Aside from the trip, the nursing students will also be looking forward to graduation. Cape Breton University’s spring convocation will be held on May 13 at the Canada Games Complex in Sydney.
Cape Breton University senior nursing students will participate in an international nursing experience later this month. A group of 24 students and four CBU staff members will travel to Quito, Ecuador, to volunteer in various units including medical-surgical, emergency, obstetrics, neonatal and operating rooms. From left, are nursing students Brialee Tighe, Brea Falconer and Morgan McGillivray.