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      Working Around the World

      Nursing Student Spends Winter Break in Nepal Children's Hospital

      Carlie Sisco, English and creative writing, ’ 19

      Looking Out at Kathmandu

      Senior nursing student Danielle Bernardin spent winter break in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she worked in Kanti Children’s Hospital.

      While the majority of students saw winter break as a time to relax after finals, senior nursing major Danielle Bernardin saw it as a time for continued learning. For two weeks, Bernardin resided in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she volunteered her time rotating between the oncology unit, burn unit, intensive care unit and the operating room at Kanti Children’s Hospital.

      The idea of volunteering her nursing skills in underdeveloped countries is something Bernardin has always been interested in. However, inspiration for her trip to Nepal stemmed from a presentation she heard in her sophomore year at Widener regarding Work the World, a company dedicated to partnering overseas hospitals and healthcare students. For the next several years, Bernardin worked with Work the World to put the details in place for her trip.

      Bernardin was largely driven to work toward this experience abroad because of the emphasis placed by the Widener School of Nursing on the importance of gaining an understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures, viewpoints and backgrounds. She wanted to become “more culturally competent and develop an understanding of how other people live and what they believe in.”

      A rich and diverse culture is what prompted Bernardin to choose Nepal to complete her partnership. Kathmandu, in particular, has a multiethnic population of about 1.4 million people with majority religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. When not in the hospital, Bernardin traveled throughout the city exploring temples and monasteries, meeting monkeys, learning from locals and indulging in the cuisine.

      Even in the hospital, Bernardin had to adjust to a completely new environment. Kanti Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in Nepal, yet Bernardin found it had few resources. Throughout the hospital, there was very little heat, and so the kids were often bundled up in coats and hats. Around six patients share a room, which led to very little to no privacy. Rules for sanitation were a lot less strict, and nurses used gloves only when necessary. Also, the patient’s family handled monitoring the child’s vital signs, keeping track of documents in their charts, taking their lab work to the lab for testing, bringing back the results and even going to the pharmacy to get medications for the nurse to administer.

      Bernardin was inspired by the nurses’ abilities to make the best of their surroundings. Bernardin considered this to be inspiring and made her proud to be a nurse herself. “It showed me that, even on the other side of the world, the nurses’ main priority is the safety of their patients, and they make sure that the care they provide them with is the best care that [the patients] could possibly receive,” she said.

      Bernardin credits Widener’s School of Nursing for providing her with strong leadership skills, confidence, support and a bold attitude that allowed her to independently take on this unforgettable experience.


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