Nurse Practitioner Students Provide Care for Rural Communities in Guatemala

Posted on March 26, 2024 by College of Nursing
College of Nursing

Nurse Practitioner Students holding up South Alabama flag in Guatemala.. data-lightbox='featured'

In February, 16 nurse practitioner students and four faculty members from the University of South Alabama College of Nursing traveled to El Tejar, Guatemala, for a seven-day study abroad program providing primary care clinics in four different rural communities.

The clinics saw men, women and children who were both acute and chronically ill. The students and faculty were able to provide medications, make referrals to specialists when needed, and offer OB limited ultrasounds. Students in the women’s health nurse practitioner specialty provided a pap smear clinic with the local ministry of health. Students in the pediatric nurse practitioner specialty provided a well-child clinic for 250 students at a local school.

In what was a trip full of memories, students were able to supply a wheelchair to a young man, give Tylenol to a mom who did not know how to reduce her child’s fever, and support a young couple by showing them their healthy baby on an ultrasound. These are just a few of the many impactful moments experienced by the group.

“Study abroad trips not only give our students the opportunity to develop their nursing skills, but it also allows them to cultivate compassion for others and learn about different cultures,” Heather Hall, dean of the USA College of Nursing, said. “We are so proud of all the work students and faculty continue to do in Guatemala.”

The faculty members on the trip include Dr. Tracy Brown, assistant professor of maternal child nursing, Dr. Daphne Hutto, assistant professor of maternal child nursing, Dr. Ashley Marass, associate professor of maternal child nursing, and Dr. Kristina Miller, chair and associate professor of maternal child nursing.

In addition, students and faculty finished furnishing two exam rooms at the Guatemala Relief and Compassion Effort Clinic, also known as G.R.A.C.E., and helped stock the clinic’s pharmacy in its entirety. The Guatemala Relief and Compassion Effort serves impoverished children and their families in Guatemala by providing education, nutrition, healthcare and spiritual support. The clinic partners with local organizations and organizations in the United States to provide high quality medical care free or at a low-cost for the patients.

Throughout the trip, the students could be heard sharing their amazement and appreciation for the trip. Several referred to it as a life-changing experience, and others added that they needed the people of Guatemala just as much as they needed them.

The Spring 2024 trip was the third nurse practitioner study abroad trip to Guatemala, and the name and impact of the USA College of Nursing is becoming well known throughout the El Tejar community and beyond.

“We have intentionally returned to villages through the years in order to build relationships,” Hutto shared. “The people look forward to us coming, smile proudly with the USA flag, and say ‘Go Jags!’”

To learn more about study abroad opportunities at the University of South Alabama and the College of Nursing, visit the Office of International Education and Study Abroad website

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