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CNL Student Thrives in Rotary Mission to Guatemala

Yurico Martinez with local childrenCollege of Nursing student Yurico Martinez was presented with a unique opportunity during a recent journey to Guatemala: to improve the lives of some of the country’s underserved children, one smile at a time.                                           

As part of a scholarship awarded by Rotary International, a nonprofit global service organization, Martinez recently spent 10 days in the Central American country where she participated in Iowa MOST (Miles of Smiles Team), a good will service mission involving cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries. In Guatemala, 1 in 600 children are born with one or both of these congenital deformities, which prevent them from being able to nurse. Due to high levels of poverty, most families don’t have access to or can’t afford to buy formula and consequently these children are often faced with starvation.

Martinez, a current UI Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) student, spent most of her time serving as an Operating Room (OR) nurse, making preparations for scheduled surgeries and ensuring that all necessary instrumentation, supplies, and equipment were readily available.

“I also assisted anesthesia providers during intubation, in addition to serving as a scrub nurse,” she added. “My fluent Spanish speaking ability allowed me to help during patient screening and I served as an interpreter on many occasions, particularly while in the operating room and after surgeries.”

In total, the team Martinez worked with treated nearly 80 patients at two different hospitals in the city of Huehuetenango. In addition to cleft surgeries, dental, tonsillectomies, and cataract surgeries were also performed.

Assisting in this manner of care was a natural fit for Martinez. She currently works on an orthopedic specialty unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics—a position she’s held for the past four years, two of which have involved working the night shift.

Yurico Martinez with other healthcare providers

“Due to the acuity of cases that come in during the middle of the night, my knowledge base has strengthened tremendously and I have become very acquainted with general surgery, cardiac/vascular, urology, transplant, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, and neurosurgery.”

In addition to her OR experience at UIHC, Martinez believes the CNL program, from which she will be graduating in May of 2018, played a significant role in preparing her for initiatives like Iowa MOST.

“I believe that the CNL program at Iowa has provided me with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in both my current role and the role I assumed while on this mission. I felt confident and prepared to successfully execute the responsibility of being the best patient advocate possible,” she explained. “The knowledge obtained from UI’s CNL program enabled me to assist the team in a collaborative aspect of care. It was truly a triumph and humbling feeling knowing that I was part of such a great team of caring individuals.”

This was Iowa MOST’s 13th mission to Guatemala and Martinez felt very fortunate to be a part of it.

“It was absolutely amazing to see how organized and prepared team members were. Everyone knew exactly what their role was and executed it beautifully. The relationship Iowa Rotarians have developed with Guatemalan Rotarians seemed so close and strong, it was almost like they were family,” she said. “The staff at the hospital were all very helpful with getting us acquainted and helping us prepare for our surgeries. I felt so comfortable and welcomed. This is what I believe made our mission a successful one, and I definitely hope to return in the years to come!”

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Posted On: 
Mar 22nd, 2018