Serving through MedHope Africa

BSN graduate Sirena Rabb details her opportunity to serve and learn with MedHope Africa.

Rabb Uganda 1 webUAB School of Nursing student Sirena Rabb traveled to Africa in March 2018.As told by Sirena Rabb, BSN 2018

This year, March 11-21 was a dream come true because that was when I became the first UAB School of Nursing student to serve with MedHope Africa.

I have always had an interest in mission trips, specifically in Africa, and in late 2017 I learned about an opportunity to serve through one. My clinical instructor at the time, Deborah Bowers, DNP, DMin, MDiv, CRNP, FNP-C, and I were having a conversation about medical mission trips and serving globally. She told me about MedHope Africa, an organization she co-founded, and how she had an upcoming trip during Spring Break 2018 and wanted me to come.

I was overwhelmed with joy, but when I realized I had to come up with thousands of dollars in a short amount of time I felt my dream slipping away. I casually brought up the trip to my mother, and she was electrified, stating, “You are going, no matter what it takes!” I started to make payments toward the trip on my own, but then I shared my story and information about this opportunity on social media. After that, friends and family members donated toward my trip and helped reach my goal. With that support, I felt a sense of exhilaration knowing that my dream of going to Africa would come true at the age of 22.

IMG 8322 webRabb said her mission trip with MedHope Africa expanded her knowledge from Western medicine, exposing her to new means of care.The experience I gained in Uganda, Africa was refreshing. The culture, the people and the food were unique in a way that I can’t put it into words. The trip was a total of 10 days, with six of those dedicated to serving others. Over the course of those six days, we saw and treated more than 630 patients, which was astonishing to me.

We traveled two hours each day by bus to the refugee camps, and on our first day, we were greeted by school children singing a welcome song in their language. That moment was something I could not prepare for, and it had me in tears. I got off the bus and was greeted by gentle hugs and cute smiles — that was the easy part of my day. The work was rewarding, but also mentally and physically exhausting.

Our team included two nurse practitioners who diagnosed patients, and there was a station run by nurses for tests and procedures and a full pharmacy for filling prescriptions. I rotated between the pharmacy and the nurse’s station.

Rabb Uganda 2 webIn the pharmacy I perfected my medication dosage calculations, studied how to reconstitute medications and learned about new drugs I had not yet learned about in school. My favorite part, however, was the nurse station, where I sharpened my skills and learned new ones, such as malaria and HIV testing, giving injections, cleaning wounds, starting IVs and so much more.

We worked sun up to sun down every day, which gave me a feeling of accomplishment knowing that we touched, served and helped many people. It was a rewarding and humbling experience, especially being a nursing student.

The camps expanded my knowledge from Western medicine and a familiar clinic setting to real life and allowed me to learn how to be creative with how I did things. For example, when we administered an IV, there wasn’t an IV pump or pole to hang the bag of fluids, so we had to get crafty and bungee it from a tree. This “out of the box” thinking opened a new set of skills for me to bring back to America, and with the exceptional, hands-on education I have received at the UAB School of Nursing, I now feel like I am prepared for any type of situation.

The UAB School of Nursing has equipped me with a strong skill set and background knowledge of diseases, community health challenges and how nurses can help decrease reoccurrence of hospital readmissions by educating patients on various subjects pertaining to their health. Through clinical experiences, the School of Nursing also afforded me paramount critical-thinking skills that allowed me to be able to move and perform effectively during the trip, and will serve me throughout my career.

As a Summer 2018 graduate from the School of Nursing, I am starting my career as an Emergency Room Nurse. Prior to the trip I had no idea of what my future would hold or where God would take me in my journey of nursing. This trip opened up new doors for opportunity and revealed my purpose in life. I plan to get a Masters’ in Global Health and a Doctor of Nursing Practice as a family nurse practitioner with a subspecialty in Emergency Nursing, while filling my heart through medical mission trips and helping the underserved in our local communities.

Read 2827 times Last modified on January 20, 2021

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