Traveling more than 3,000 miles each way, students in the Student Nurses' Association (SNA) ventured to Limon, Nicaragua, in May 2015 to volunteer at overburdened government health clinics that serve a population with high pediatric and maternal needs.

The students’ service began long before their flight departed. With limited medical supplies available in Limon, faculty, staff and students organized a collection drive to address the supply shortage. A Stritch pathophysiology class collected more than 50 items, including children’s and prenatal vitamins, pregnancy tests, dental health products, antibiotic ointment, and other necessary over-the-counter items.

"The clinic depends on mission trip volunteers to bring supplies and, in hospitals, patients need to bring their own bed sheets, towels, food and a chair," said Eva-Marie Nitka, assistant professor of nursing and faculty advisor to SNA, who accompanied the students.

The transition from working with advanced technology in classrooms and health clinics in the United States to providing medical care in a location with minimal access to such technology was not without its challenges.

As in the United States, diabetes is also a big concern in Nicaragua; however, most cases there go untreated due to the shortage of medical supplies. Glucometers, electricity, insulin and oral medications are not available. The students addressed the lack of resources by encouraging natural regulatory measures, such as healthy eating and exercise.