COTC Nursing Faculty Brings Haiti Experience into the Classroom

NEWARK, Ohio, Nov. 15, 2018 – A ten-day immersion, Oct. 5 – 14, in the Haitian medical system has caused Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) Assistant Nursing Professor Megan Hendershot to reevaluate what she emphasizes in her classrooms. She traveled with the NurseTim organization to Léogâne, Haiti where she spent half of each day working in Sainte Croix Hospital (Hôpital Sainte Croix) and the other half of the day teaching in the Faculty of Nursing Sciences of the Episcopal University of Haiti.

Image"It gave me a whole new outlook on medicine and how we do it here," said Hendershot. "The nurses and doctors there don't have lab tests or equipment, so they rely a lot on just the physical assessment that they can make with what they can see and what they can feel with their hands. I am trying to bring a little of that back to my students."

Since her return to the classrooms at COTC's Coshocton campus, she has implemented procedures in her lessons that help her students rely more on the assessment skills that are basics of nursing than on the results that come from technology.​

"I tell them that the technology is there to simply assist them, it is not supposed to be the primary evidence for a chosen treatment because not everywhere you work will have the same resources," said Hendershot.

She saw firsthand what limited resources can lead to in a medical emergency. Hendershot noted that in the Haitian medical system there is no insurance, so patients must pay upfront for things like catheters, IV tubing and oxygen. This system meant that she had to teach the Haitian nursing students how to recognize which medicine prescribed to patients should be made a top priority purchase. Hendershot also explained how that system called for a different set of procedures when a patient entered the hospital. First, they would be assessed and the doctor would write a prescription for the necessary medical supplies and medicines. Then someone accompanying that individual would have to leave to go to a pharmacy to pay for the items and bring them back to the hospital before a patient would be treated.

"My biggest frustration was probably the work at the hospital, and not being able to help patients the way I can as a nurse in the U.S.," she said. "I remember going over to a four-hour-old baby that was completely blue. I looked at a regular hospital nurse and asked, 'What are we doing for this baby?' She responded, 'If the mom can't afford oxygen, the baby dies.' Forty-five dollars for oxygen for the baby is about a month of wages for a lot of Haitian people."

This experience has also prompted her to bring global health awareness to the forefront of her lessons in the classroom. She is teaching her students that both cultural differences and availability of basic medical resources play a large role in the health of a community and country.

Hendershot hopes to return to Haiti with the NurseTim organization as often as possible because it provided her an opportunity to make a difference both out in the community and in the classroom.

"I chose to do this trip with NurseTim because I could not only go out and work in a hospital, but I could also work with nursing students and hopefully teach them something that they can take with them as they become licensed nurses in Haiti," she said.

Hendershot received a $2,000 Tibbie Leslie Travel Grant from the Licking County Foundation (LCF) in March 2018 to allow her to travel with NurseTim to Haiti. She is a Coshocton resident who has taught in COTC's licensed practical nurse (LPN) certificate program and the college's LPN to Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing Technology (ADN) transition program for six years.

Tibbie Leslie Travel Grants were awarded to four area teachers in March who had planned to travel abroad to develop their experience and knowledge in their particular field of interest. They were also selected for their commitment to bringing the work back to their classrooms like the award's donor, Tibbie Leslie – a Newark native who traveled the world throughout her 30-year teaching career.

COTC offers nursing opportunities in: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) - COTC graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing Technology with this traditional five-semester plan of study making eligible to take the NCLEX-RN to become a certified RN.; Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to ADN Transition - COTC offers a three-semester advanced placement option for LPNs; and one-year certificate programs making students eligible to test to become a certified LPN or State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA).

The nursing program at COTC is approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing and is dual accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.