A group of OTC nursing students are headed to Nicaragua on April 9, but they aren’t going for a spring break vacation. They’re going with a purpose — to provide medical care to villagers who have little access to medical services.
The 10 students and three faculty members will travel to several communities outside of Managua. Because of their medical training, the students will participate in assisting at medical and dental clinics with local Nicaraguan doctors. The students will be distributing basic first aid kits and hygiene items in two villages. They held fundraisers, like selling cookies and cakes at OTC, to purchase medication and medical supplies to distribute during their eight-day visit.
Among the students going are first-time travelers Andrea Sleeth, Allie Enyart and Brooke Noble.
“I think it’s going to be a great way to see how impoverished people live and to give back to these people,” Andrea said.
Allie said her mother went to Nicaragua as a dental hygienist.
“I want to go to get the experience. It’s a different community down there,” she said.
Rebecca Caceres, director of the OTC dental hygiene program and who leads the mission trips to Nicaragua, said the nursing students will educate community health coordinators in local villages for two days prior to heading out into the villages.
“They (the health coordinators) are designated by the government to communicate any unusual health activity and make them aware of it try to keep it contained,” Caceres said, adding that there have been a lot of vector-borne viruses found in Nicaragua lately, the most common being malaria.
“The students will be teaching the coordinators about the characteristics and symptoms of these viruses and how to manage the patient who has contracted the virus. All three villages have access issues in receiving quality health care and dental care.”
Brooke is excited about making the trip for the first time.
“It’s an incredible opportunity. I have a deep compassion for these people,” she said.