Nursing in Sendafa, Ethiopia: A Collaboration of Mission, Mentoring, and Medicine
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Ethiopia is the second poorest nation in the world. Ninety percent of the population lives in poverty, over 50% on less than one dollar a day. The village of Sendafa has about 15,000 people, most of whom have never seen a nurse or doctor. The primary health issues in Ethiopia continue to be contaminated water, poor sanitation, HIV/AIDS, poor nutrition, and inadequate access to medical care. Since 2007, York County nurses and doctors have partnered with Ethiopian doctors to provide a one-week medical clinic in the village, along with supplying year-long medications for HIV/AIDS and water-born diseases. Ethiopian nursing students were invited to the clinic in 2008 for observational experience, and by 2009, they were assisting American nurses under the direction of an Ethiopian nurse. During the most recent trip in 2011, the American team represented every level of nursing practice from administration to CNS to RN to student. This broad spectrum of backgrounds and experience levels provided an excellent opportunity for learning, training, and mentoring with the Ethiopian nurses and students. Every nurse was forced to adapt beyond her area of expertise while working in a foreign country under challenging conditions in capacities which were often very unfamiliar. Plus, while mentoring the Ethiopian nursing students, the American team was stretched and challenged in ways that helped them not only provide better care for the villagers of Sendafa, but transformed their overall nursing practice in the US. Throughout the week, the team saw a total of 1739 patients. Many general surgeries were performed to remove tumors, and cataract surgeries literally gave sight to the blind. Patients were treated for parasites, infections, arthritis, and various skin diseases. The Sendafa clinic provided care for over 1300 primary care patients, over 300 eye patients, 39 cataract surgeries, 25 general surgeries, and 41 dental cases.