Guatemala service trip furthers students’ community health project

VUSN student with Guatemalan children

Students from the School of Nursing traveled to Guatemala during Spring Break 2019 to work with the Primeros Pasos clinic. Led by School of Nursing Instructor Shelza Rivas, DNP’17, MSN’15, BA’12, and School of Medicine assistant professor Brent Savoie, MD’09, BA’01, the group executed a quality improvement project as part of their yearlong Community Health course. PreSpecialty students Mallory Brooks (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care), Emily Diener (Women’s Health), Rachel Hilton (Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner), Katie Mann (Family Nurse Practitioner), Hannah McGrew (Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner) and Emily Paddon (Family Nurse Practitioner) spent January and February analyzing and evaluating the clinic’s community outreach activities. They developed a needs assessment tool to gauge barriers to attending mobile clinics within four communities that have the greatest medical and health education needs.

While in Guatemala, the students participated in a mobile clinic and outreach activity to carry out the assessment. Before departure, they proposed a model to Primeros Pasos staff to help clinic volunteers create meaningful community outreach activities that would target community needs and maintain attendance. They also visited the ACAM maternity center, which is directed by Mam Mayan midwives and serves as a training center and clinic for expectant mothers.

As part of their preparation, the students participated in the College of Arts and Science’s Central America Seminar led by Avery Dickins de Girón, director of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), and studied medical Spanish with Chalene Helmuth, senior lecturer in Spanish, in fall 2018. While VUSN students have worked with CLAS for several years, this was the first time CLAS opened the medical Spanish courses to Vanderbilt Master of Public Health and School of Medicine students, as well as Meharry Medical College students. This effort is part of a larger CLAS initiative to support inter-professional learning and promote access to its Latin American clinical sites for Meharry students.

PreSpecialty student Emily Paddon talks with Maya children during her Spring Break service trip to Guatemala.

This article originally appeared in the 2018-2019 Center for Latin American Studies newsletter.