Student Spotlight: Grace Donison
Grace explains the impact her medical trip to Haiti has had on her — and how it has made her a better nurse.
Students at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) are constantly looking for ways to positively impact their world, from their local neighborhoods to the global community.
And for Grace Donison, every day represents an important opportunity to provide compassionate patient care.
Grace took advantage of her short, one week break between the end of the spring semester and the start of her summer semester nursing courses and her clinical rotation at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center to travel to Haiti and put her nursing skills to use.
The medical trip, which was sponsored through Mission of Hope, was located in Titanyen, Haiti, and Grace provided medical care through mobile medical clinics in Leveque, Zorange, and Simonette.
A highly engaged student leader on campus, Grace serves as an International Student Ambassador, the her class Nursing Ambassador, a board member of the National Student Nurses Association, a Peer Mentor, and an Anatomy and Physiology tutor in the Academic Resource Center.
Grace shares how she is already putting her nursing education to use to provide excellent care to patients in need.
What inspired you to take part in this medical service trip to Haiti?
I was inspired to go on this medical mission trip for many reasons, but the biggest reason was because I felt a calling to go help the people of Haiti. I have heard wonderful things about how loving and appreciate the people are there, and it was absolutely true.
Tell us about your experience volunteering. What type of care did you provide to patients?
We would go out on mobile medical clinics and set up a clinic in a church. Our mobile medical clinics were set up in stations that included check-in and heights/weights, triage, and physician visit, as well as a pharmacy to give patients their medication from their diagnoses. The care that I gave to the patients was mostly triage.
What did that involve?
Triage consisted of gathering medical data, performing vital signs, blood glucose checks, pregnancy tests and other recording measures. I also helped the physicians with wound care if that was needed.
Did you use the skills and knowledge that you have gained from your MCPHS classes during your trip?
It was great to use my nursing skills and knowledge that I have acquired in classes and in labs. I had just taken Pathophysiology and Pharmacology prior to leaving for the trip, which gave me a good knowledge of illnesses and various drugs to treat the illnesses. It was a wonderful feeling to put my knowledge and skills into action to help Haitian patients.
Has this trip given you a new or changed perspective on how to provide patient care?
This trip was the perfect precursor before beginning clinical rotations and before beginning my last three semesters of nursing school. This trip set the tone inside me as a future nurse in such a humble and special way. I will always treat every single person that I meet with the respect, love, and care that I witnessed in Haiti.
What was one of the most memorable moments you experienced during your trip?
I had thousands of memorable moments from working with patients in Haiti, but one of the most memorable ones would be how Haitian children always remember your name. As soon as a little, loving Haitian child came up to you, they’d ask your name. The next day, if you were to see them, they would come running back up to you yelling your name and reaching for a hug, to be picked up, or a piggy back ride. I miss those children on a daily basis.
Do you plan to go back to Haiti in the future?
Haiti needs so, so much, and what I accomplished during my trip was only a tiny fraction of the medical care they need there, and that is why I have plans to go back. I would like to go back to Haiti once I receive my BSN from the School of Nursing in the Spring of 2016.
Why is it important to get involved with leadership opportunities, like your service trip to Haiti, as a student?
A trip like this gives you the life skills to speak to others, stand up for others, and do what is right in a professional manner. Taking advantage of leadership opportunities makes you a well-rounded person. I think that everyone should go on a service trip to an impoverished country at some point in their life, because the experience will give you the knowledge and perspective about mankind to help you to appreciate what you have.
How will this experience as a volunteer and a student leader help you in your future career as a nurse?
This experience as a volunteer and as a student leader will help my future career because it has given me life-long skills, including how to interact with others, solve problems, and generally understand what others may be going through. I think that all of my experiences have given me insight into what to do in times of conflict and when it is the right time to just sit back and listen. I highly recommend that every student tries to become involved in leadership and volunteer opportunities, because it honestly gives you the insight to just see where others are coming from, and makes you a more compassionate human being.