Helping Hands

Castleton University Nursing students recently traveled to Guatemala to participate in a medical mission. Tasked with providing sustainable medical and dental care to those who call Nueva Santa Rosa home, the student-led group, accompanied by Professor Betty Gilley, spent nearly an entire week delivering various healthcare services to more than 1,500 people. In total, 35 individuals, including doctors, nurses, ATV’s and pharmacists from across the country volunteered their time.

“When I first learned I was going to Guatemala, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to provide medical care to those who lack access to care. I was excited to use and practice my nursing knowledge and skills in another country,” said Madison Malinowski, a junior Nursing major from Sparta, New Jersey. 

During their trip, students were able to rotate through different medical clinics, including triage, pediatrics, women’s health, dental, pharmacy, general medicine, and education.

The goal of the medical mission was to provide public health care to individuals living in poverty. Large majorities of Guatemalan citizens live in rural communities without access to proper healthcare, drinking water, and electricity, allowing for a multitude of diseases and infection cause by poor sanitation.

“The one thing that surprised me was how there was a lack of access to care due to poverty which lead to poor health outcomes,” Malinowski said. “There was a high prevalence of diseases or illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, malnutrition, parasites, and other things.”

Students gained hands-on experience taking vitals, conducting ultrasound scans to examine women’s and maternal health, testing for blood sugars and creatinine, and more. They also taught two classes including Basic Life Support and Helping Babies Breathe.

“The mission prepared me for my career in the medical field by exposing me and confirming my decision to become a pediatric nurse. I enjoyed working with kids of all ages and applying my nursing knowledge to help diagnose and treat them. In Guatemala, in pediatrics we measured height and weight z-scores, as well as head circumference under two years old and arm circumference under six years old. This helps the mission track the growth and nutrition of the children which I was intrigued by,” Malinowski said.