Student Helps Run Medical Clinic in Guatemala

By Kathryn Mulligan

Jacie Prince is currently a fifth semester nursing student. In addition to nursing, she is also double majoring in Spanish, a language she learned while serving her mission in Peru, and is passionate about combining the two. This past summer, she was able to put her two majors into practice as she participated in a medical study abroad in Guatemala with two other nursing students, her little brother, and her brother’s friend.

Jacie Prince

When the group of five arrived in Guatemala, they were informed by the man in charge of the program that they would be running a medical campaign for the geriatric community by themselves for a week. The group was stunned by the news and anxious to not have the aid of other doctors or nurses, but they didn’t have time to hesitate. For their geriatric clinic, they set up four stations–medical history, vitals, blood glucose, and patient education–and immediately began treating patients.

From left to right: Bentley Hallsted , Jacie Prince, Olivia May, group leader Jorge, Alyssa Beehler, and Jarett Prince

After their first day running the clinic, Jacie and the rest of her group came to two realizations. First, they still had a lot of skills to learn. Second, the majority of the skills they were using were skills they had learned in their first year in the nursing program with Gaye Ray, like understanding vitals and how to educate patients. For the remainder of their time in Guatemala, she and the rest of her team would text Gaye and collaborate with her on specific questions they had, like prescriptions and patient education, in order to provide their patients the best care they could. During their second week in Guatemala, they worked on a separate medical campaign with doctors and nurses in several different villages. The campaign focused on the general population with an emphasis on children, a campaign that still required the basic skills Jacie and her group had been perfecting. Of both experiences, Jacie says, “It was just a really awesome experience to take what we learned, even just the basics like second semester, and then be able to apply that actually to another part of the world, especially since we had just studied global health.”

Jacie also says the experience was perfect for her double major in nursing and Spanish as it helped her learn how to work with a different population, specifically with a different culture. “I remember in one of my medical Spanish classes that we were talking about how you’re not just translating words, but you’re translating culture.” For Jacie, translating culture also meant adapting to a new culture and how it affects patient education. She highlights the specific way they spoke Spanish, and the distinct routines and lifestyles of the Guatemalan people as the most important things for her to adapt to.

Jacie with one of her patients in Guatemala

Overall, Jacie’s medical study abroad to Guatemala was educational and taught her ways she could become a better nurse. The experiences she had showed her the importance of putting her focus on the patient and adapting to their personal needs. She also says that she loved the opportunity to experience and practice unique nurse-patient relationships with people she’ll never see again as it made the experience more worthwhile. For Jacie, her time in Guatemala was the combination of her basic nursing skills, her passion for Spanish, and the practice of global health, an opportunity she’s grateful for.

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