Laurie Armatas has been a registered nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in the labor and delivery department for 20 years. Her daughter, Hilary, is following in her footsteps in becoming a nurse. While majoring in Public Health at Oregon State, Hilary went on an IE3 Global Internship to Durban and Cape Town, South Africa, to be part of the Child and Family Health International program. In this entry, Laurie writes about how it felt to send her child to South Africa, and provides a mother’s perspective on education abroad.
When Hilary heard that she had been chosen to go to South Africa on a medical internship with IE3 Global she was ecstatic. She had spent a year working to accomplish the goals she had set for herself that would make her a desirable candidate for the program. As her mother, I was incredibly happy for her, but I must confess that there was some trepidation. She was going to be traveling halfway around the world and immersed in a culture she knew very little about.
Working in the health care field myself, I worried that practices in a developing country may not be what I believe to be safest for the practitioner. Would they teach her to wear protective covering when needed? Would there be resources available to provide the protective covering for her? I also worried that she might not realize what she needed to do to be safe, not just in the hospitals and clinics, but out in the communities as well. What would the families she would be living with be like? Would they support her if she needed it? I gave her far more instruction than I’m sure she wanted or needed and then I left her with probably the most important advice – get all she possibly could from the experience, open her eyes as well as her mind and enjoy herself!
She followed my suggestions and had what she describes as the “Best time in her life.” She was pretty sad when it was time to come home. The adjustment once home seemed to be hard. Her situation is likely different from others because she came back to hear she had been accepted into nursing school and would be leaving her friends at Oregon State to pursue her nursing degree. In any case, she came home a more mature and self-confident person, with clearly defined goals in place. The experiences she had in South Africa really helped her fine-tune the path she wants to travel and the goals she wants to meet.
My advice to other parents whose children are heading off to experience the world on an IE3 Global internship would be to learn what you can about the culture they will be immersed in so you can help them to be safe – they will probably think you are being overprotective – stay in contact with them – we used WhatsAPP on our cell phones – and they will likely need – want? – more money than you think. Hilary earned all she took with her but ended up borrowing some so she could do the once-in-a-life-time things that came up – bungee jumping and caged shark diving! Finally, I would advise parents to send them off to have the “best time in their life.”
When I was in nursing school, there was no treatment other than supportive care for HIV/AIDS. Hilary’s internship opportunities taught me that it is now considered a chronic condition that can be well managed with available resources and education.
I think it would be fulfilling to help provide that and to be a tiny bit instrumental in improving the health status of a population in need. Because of the amazing experiences Hilary had, we are talking about the possibility of going back together once she has finished nursing school to volunteer in a medical venue.