Despite a typhoon, school closures and much more, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s student nurses helped test over 7000 children in the Philippines for anemia and hearing over a period of two weeks.
Shauna Remin was one of seven Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students from KPU who travelled with a group of UBC dental graduates and affiliates to the remote island of Siquijor, Philippines. She had never taken an international trip before so this was a first for her.
“If you asked me in the beginning I would say no, that’s not for me,” she recounts.
For the past eight years, nursing students have travelled overseas to help with various projects. The project started when BSN faculty member, Dr. Dianne Symonds, connected the KPU students with students from the UBC Dental Outreach Project and a Rotary Club in the Philippines. Every year, the club identifies the needs of the community that are then fulfilled to a certain degree by the students and instructors from KPU.
In 2018, the Rotary Club in Siquijor identified a need for testing hearing and anemia. The club arranged for the nurses to test students and adults at a number of schools during their two-week visit. The student nurses also helped at the UBC dental clinic.
But before heading to the Philippines, the student nurses spent several months researching the community’s demographics, health beliefs and more.
“Although the students have been provided by faculty with an overview of how a day working in the dental unit, as well as a day working in the schools conducting hearing and anemia assessments, may play out, every day presents with unpredictable challenges that the students must problem-solve as a team,” says Dr. Lida Blizard, instructor in the BSN program at KPU. “This opportunity has enabled BSN students to expand their world view of healthcare, and see the many opportunities that avail them in having both a regional and a global impact as Canadian citizens and student nurses.”
Canadian Health standards prevent the student nurses from performing blood tests on patients so they have to look for physical signs of anemia.
“We assessed the children’s eyes and nails and skin for signs of anemia so at that point if you’re showing signs you’re very anemic,” says Remin.
Before heading to the Philippines, the nurses were trained by an audiologist in Canada on how to use a portable tuning fork for the hearing tests.
“You don’t want to bring equipment into a place that they [the locals] can’t use afterward,” says Remin.
For Remin, this was the longest trip the mom of two had ever embarked upon. It also changed her perspective on travelling overseas to help others.
“I would 100 percent recommend people to explore the option of doing international work in any form. It’s something that takes you out of your current way of thinking and puts you into a different perspective,” says Remin.
Remin says the support she received from KPU helped her not only through nursing school but also earlier in her career when she received her diploma to become a medical secretary in 2002.
“KPU’s been my home and I’m incredibly proud of the things I’ve been able to do because of how KPU has supported me,” she adds.
For more information about the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, visit kpu.ca/health/bsn.