Nursing student Rachel Hamel's Guatemala experience
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Nursing student Rachel Hamel’s Guatemala experience

woman in nursing scrubs on a cobblestone road smiling for a picture
Rachel Hamel

In summer 2022, nursing senior and track-and-field student-athlete Rachel Hamel completed an externship at a labor and delivery unit at Hillcrest South Hospital in Tulsa. At its conclusion, Hamel traveled to Guatemala, where she volunteered at a rural nonprofit health clinic for three weeks.

Hamel initially had difficulty studying abroad due to the pandemic and her busy schedule as a student-athlete and nursing student. “I made a trip that combined all the elements that I wanted it to without compromising my other commitments,” she said. Hamel also went to Panama with JumpstartTU, which confirmed her desire to study abroad again. “I also have a minor in Spanish,” said Hamel, “and wanted to go somewhere I could practice my fluency while also developing my nursing skills.”

The clinic where Hamel volunteered focused on the nutritional and primary health care needs of the surrounding communities.

“I worked alongside the doctor and the clinic staff assessing patients, creating an inventory system for medications and hosting educational sessions for the communities,” she stated. Some days, Hamel’s clinic had nutritional educational events with more than 50 women and children of smaller communities: “We welcomed women and children to come on the same scheduled day to the clinic for a checkup, an educational session about nutrition and when to come back to the clinic. These were called ‘una jornada,’” Hamel said. Other days, they went directly to homes whose children needed a medical or nutritional intervention.

Person with camera on a cobblestone street

“This trip deepened my interest in global health and opened my eyes to the vast health care needs, barriers and opportunities outside of the United States. I feel proud to have had the opportunity to take the knowledge that I learned at TU abroad and come back to Tulsa with new perspectives to integrate into my nursing career.”

Hamel has accepted a job at the pediatric intensive care unit at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Working with children in Guatemala piqued her interest in the pediatric field of health care: “My time in Guatemala opened my eyes to how significant primary care is.” Additionally, Hamel’s externship with Hillcrest allowed her to witness newborns in need of additional post-natal support. “Both experiences helped me determine that I wanted a career in pediatrics.”

Want an education that takes you all over the globe? Want to improve lives while doing it? Check out the Oxley College of Health Sciences to see what options they have available for your bright future.