My experiences volunteering in South Africa and Haiti have proven to me that my interests lie within global health in developing countries. When thinking about my mentoring project it seemed only natural to find someone with similar interests. I have always wondered what nurses could do on a global and public health scale but did not have any examples of it. When I was introduced to Dr. Monica Onyango, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, I finally found the example I was looking for.
Dr. Onyango holds a PhD in Nursing from Boston College and a Master of Public Health from Boston University. She currently teaches a course on disaster management and humanitarian emergencies. Her course is very popular, especially with nurses. I had several questions for Dr. Onyango about nurses’ roles and opportunities in international health. I wanted to know how nurses could foster a career in global health and synthesize the two career paths. She told me that many nurses had similar interests and invited me to a meeting about global health and nurses’ roles, which she would facilitate. The meetings showed me that many nurses had an interest in global health whether they just graduated from school or have been a nurse for 20 years.
The discussions made Dr. Onyango and the other nurses realize that there is a need for training and certifications for nurses interested in volunteering globally. With her guidance and research of different public health programs, I created a curriculum for a certification program for nurses interested in volunteering during relief efforts as opposed to having a career in international public health. My curriculum included theory, practical/simulation, and case studies. It would be a certification program that would teach nurses the basics of relief efforts and disaster management. I envisioned this program building competent and prepared nurses during times of domestic and international relief efforts. Overall, this project helped me get a better understanding of nursing and global health and inspires me to find a way to synthesize my love for nursing and international public health.