“Genuine kindness and gentleness.” Those are the words University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Professor Dr. Nina McLain used to describe the residents of a Honduran village where she and other members of a medical mission trip team spent five days last month performing life-changing surgeries.
McLain, Nurse Anesthesia Program Administrator, accompanied six USM nurse anesthesia students for the trip led by Hattiesburg physician Dr. Joe Campbell and Hattiesburg resident Caroline Hood through the Baptist Medical Dental Missions International (BMDMI). For the past several years, USM students have participated in the mission trips.
The students provided anesthesia and performed other duties in 72 surgeries that included anterior cruciate ligament repairs, major hernia repairs, hysterectomies, bone deformity corrections, breast mass removals, gallbladder removals among others. Four operating rooms were used with Dr. David Holm (general), Dr. Petra Schneider Redden (plastics), Dr. Raymond Whitehead (orthopedic), and Dr. Libby Kot (OB/GYN) performing the operations.
The experience left quite an impression on McLain, who was chaperoning students on a medical mission trip for the first time.
“The people were amazing. They were so grateful to the team and the missionaries, Chris and Denyse Williams, who run the clinic and the complex,” said McLain. “The patients would have to sit for hours, sometimes all day until 6 p.m. for their turn and would still smile as you passed by. Their patience was unbelievable. My impression of the country was similar to what I had experienced on my trips to Guatemala. While there is abject poverty, the people are hardworking and manage to somehow survive.”
The USM students included:
- Lauren Sherrill of Brandon, Miss.
- Erin Travis of Picayune, Miss.
- Laura Beth Hailey of Louisville, Miss.
- Darienne Lowery of Charleston, S.C.
- Stephanie Williamson of McHenry, Miss.
- Alexa Hogan of Meridian, Miss.
McLain explained that the students were heavily involved in the surgical procedures, beginning on the first day when they met with the patients and completed their pre-anesthesia assessments.
“Dr. Campbell would then meet with them and schedule their cases,” she said. “Four provided anesthesia for the patient cases while the other two would rotate between starting IV lines, monitoring patients in the recovery room, and giving breaks and lunch relief to those in surgeries. The next day, they would rotate rooms and jobs so all could have the same experiences.”
On the final day, the entire 30-member BMDMI team delivered fresh water in the tanker truck to the village and handed out toys and gift bags to the children. McLain notes that faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at USM take pride in graduating students who are more than anesthesia providers.
“We feel it is our job as faculty to expand their roles to utilize what they are taught and what they are exposed to with their doctoral degrees in areas of their interest,” said McLain. “We support and push them to experience things like professional advocacy, community involvement, and service. We also incorporate service learning into the program and give them administrative release time to participate.”
Added McLain: “Our aim is that they would enjoy giving back and continue that after they graduate. The profession of nurse anesthesia is such an amazing career, and we are so fortunate. The mission trip was very rewarding for the students, and they were able to experience providing anesthesia in an environment very different from the United States.”