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Mercy Ships Recognizes NU Nursing Students for National Nurses Week

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During National Nurses Week, observed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) May 6-May 12, 2011, Mercy Ships would like to highlight a group of nursing students who played an active role in preparing for the 2011 Mercy Ships Field Service in Sierra Leone – one of the world’s poorest countries.

Garden Valley, TX (PRWEB)

Without a qualified staff of nurses from all over the world, Mercy Ships would not be able to fulfill its mission of serving the forgotten poor. During National Nurses Week, observed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) May 6-May 12, 2011, Mercy Ships would like to highlight a group of nursing students who played an active role in preparing for the 2011 Mercy Ships Field Service in Sierra Leone – one of the world’s poorest countries.

In a unique opportunity, four nursing students from Northwest University in Seattle, Washington, traveled half-way across the world to help prepare for the arrival of the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships hospital ship. Accompanied by a professor, they took part in a hands-on medical experience that was dramatically different from textbooks or lectures.

“In Sierra Leone we got such a change in perspective,” says NU nursing student Paul Moughamian. “We were exposed to so many relevant issues that don’t make it into the classroom.”

The nursing students helped Mercy Ships gather medical histories and provide tuberculosis testing for 150 day-workers. Day-workers are local men and women who assist in many capacities, including as translators, onboard the Mercy Ships hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

As the day for the ship’s arrival in Sierra Leone was quickly approaching, Mercy Ships staff spent time with government officials to ensure that all final preparations were in order.
Preparing the day-workers was quite an undertaking, so having the NU students assist with the task was a huge help.

The NU group also toured a local health care facility where they witnessed stark differences between hospitals in the U.S. and those in West Africa. “I was amazed,” commented Moughamian, “by the way the Sierra Leoneans adapted to getting by with so much less than we use here in the U.S. So many people had no access to hospitals. It was tough to see.”

The time spent in a developing country with Mercy Ships showed the students a different way to use their new degree. Most nursing jobs are in a large hospital setting in urban areas. But this floating, state-of-the-art hospital provides a dramatically different setting. It is staffed with volunteer nurses who provide basic health care to individuals who have virtually no available medical care.

Approximately 350 nurses from all over the world serve with Mercy Ships each year. From operating room nurses to ward nurses to pediatric nurses – nearly every discipline can be utilized onboard the ship. Two years of professional experience as a registered nurse after licensure are required before nurses can apply to volunteer with Mercy Ships. The duration of volunteer service starts at two weeks for surgical nurses and eight weeks or longer for patient care nurses.

Volunteering with Mercy Ships is a unique way to see the world, experience other cultures, and serve individuals in need – all at the same time! “I love it because I am able to travel and still do what I love,” says pediatric nurse Melissa Davey from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Moughamian and his classmates soaked in a vast amount of knowledge during their trip to West Africa. Most importantly, they learned that those of us in the U.S. should never take our health care facilities for granted. Most of these students entered the field of nursing because they want to help people. During this time with Mercy Ships, their eyes were opened to a new way of helping others in need – by making the sacrifice to volunteer their time and skills.

Now, back in the classroom in Seattle, Paul Moughamian reflects on his time spent in Sierra Leone. Working with Mercy Ships in West Africa was a fantastic journey. “This trip was the most valuable part of my college experience,” he says, “one that I will never forget!”

ABOUT NATIONAL NURSES WEEK: National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale‘s birthday. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing. Often described as an art and a science, nursing is a profession that embraces dedicated people with varied interests, strengths and passions because of the many opportunities the profession offers. The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896.

ABOUT MERCY SHIPS: Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $834 million, impacting more than 2.9 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to become the face of love in action, bringing hope and healing to the poor. For more information click on

If you are interested in volunteering with Mercy Ships, please email us at recruiting(at)mercyships(dot)org.

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