Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle Sullivan always felt like she wanted to do travel nursing, but it wasn’t until her trip to Honduras at the end of December that her feelings were really confirmed.

Sullivan is a nursing student at the University of Arizona and recently returned from a week-long trip to Honduras with a group called Global Medical Brigades.

During the week the group set up medical clinics in rural areas of Honduras to provide basic medical care to people who rarely, if ever, have a chance to visit with medical professionals. The clinic included a doctor, dentist, gynecologist and pharmacist. In three days the group provided free medical care to 568 patients.

“We helped them with very basic health care so it was a lot of dealing with parasites and fungal infections, and things like that,” Sullivan said. “It was very cool. Everyone there was so nice and so thankful, and we were able to help a lot.”

Sullivan said personally she helped the pharmacist fill orders, helped the dentist extract teeth and worked in various ways with the doctor, but her favorite part was working with the children.

“There was one section while everyone was waiting for their medication to be filled, the adults went to one area where they were taught basic water and food safety and sexually transmitted disease safety, and the children came to me and I taught them how to brush their teeth,” she said. “That was my favorite part aside from all the nursing stuff I did. It was very fun to teach 12 and 13 year olds how to brush their teeth since they never had. I spent a lot of time in the dental area just because I enjoyed working with the kids.”

Once the clinics were closed the students also had a chance to visit a local orphanage. Overall, Sullivan said the experience is one she will never forget.

“I think it was very inspiring to me personally because it really just enforced that that’s what I want to do,” she said. “I do want to go back to Honduras. It was very eye opening and very humbling. It was amazing to see all these people that had so little. They literally had nothing, but they gave me so much that money can’t buy. I learned a lot about myself and that that’s what I want to do with my life but also all the people there, it was so cool to see how happy and content they were and grateful for us. It reminded me why I want to be a nurse. That’s easy to forget when I’m in nursing school and hating studying.”

Sullivan will graduate in four months.

Global Brigades is a student-led global health and sustainable development organization that works in four different countries to improve quality of life while respecting local cultures. For more information on the programs and chapters, visit www.globalbrigades.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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