A group of 18 SMU Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students will depart on December 17 for Laos, where they will distribute medical supplies, provide healthcare and visit medical facilities.
The group, accompanied by faculty members Peter Miskin and Garry Johnson, will stay in the country for 10 days, working and learning about Lao culture and global health concepts. Their itinerary will include a visit to a nursing school, a children's cultural center, four elementary schools, a hospital for uninsured patients, a remote clinic and community health center. In addition, they will participate in Baci ceremonies, visit Buddhist holy sites, navigate the mighty Mekong River and spend time at an elephant refuge.
Over the past few months, the students have been busy collecting medical supplies, fundraising and preparing for this nursing service trip. Part of their journey includes transporting 2,000 pounds of medical supplies from MedShare to the hospital, nursing school and clinic. They will also provide sports equipment, school supplies and education supplies to the schools that they visit. Equipment donations include vital sign monitoring equipment, operating room/surgical supplies, emergency supplies, and birthing equipment. This equipment will be purchased locally, helping contribute to the Laotian economy.
The students have also partnered with the Lion's Club and the SMU podiatry department. They will run two clinics for two villages, and will be providing magnifying glasses, and basic foot care.
SMU faculty and students have travelled to Laos for many years. In the past few years the program has expanded to include clinics, schools and the provision of needed supplies. Earlier this year, Professors Miskin and Johnson opened a school in one of the remote villages.
Pictured is the SMU student group that visited Laos in June, 2012, at the children's culture center. Photo by Garry Johnson.