Since 2012, Staff Care's parent company, AMN Healthcare, has been sponsoring a volunteer clinical and nursing relief program in Guatemala with the help of Staff Care team members, in addition to hundreds of other clinical and non-clinical volunteers.
With the goal of "sponsoring clinical and nonclinical personnel to quickly launch a week-long acute care surgical facility and clinic that provides vital healthcare to people who might otherwise never see a nurse or doctor," the Guatemala relief mission focuses on "the impoverished highlands of Guatemala," explains AMN CEO Susan Salka in a recent editorial published at Becker's Hospital Review.
At the heart of the Guatemala relief mission are volunteer nurses organized by AMN Healthcare. In fact, all personnel — clinical and non-clinical — who take part in the mission are volunteers.
Quickly after their arrival, these volunteers turn the facilities available to them — including community centers and military bases — into clinical areas, like triage centers, pharmacies, recovery rooms, and so on.
In the space of a week, these makeshift clinical spaces are used to treat an estimated 1,000 local residents, who typically come from neighboring villages and farms to receive much-needed, high-quality clinical care.
The medical team treats what they can on the spot, referring more serious conditions to the hospital or clinic. As a result, Salka estimates that around 100 surgeries are performed, the most common of which are procedures for tumor removal, hysterectomies, hernia treatment, eye surgery, and tear duct blockage.
Guatemala Nursing Volunteer Mission:
Clinical Relief & Life-Changing Experiences
It isn't just the residents of impoverished areas of Guatemala who find this week-long relief mission to be life-changing. The nurses and clinical personnel also typically walk away from the experience deeply moved. Indeed, it's a unique opportunity for nurses, clinicians and non-clinical volunteers to not just experience a different aspect of life than what may be the norm in the United States, but also to offer real help to people who would otherwise have little to no opportunity for advanced medical care.
"The area we served was a very impoverished farming community," recalls volunteer Brandon Martin about his involvement in AMN's 2014 Guatemala relief mission. "They don’t have access to clean water or healthcare that we take for granted here in the States. But when you realize how simple they live and how happy they are, you can’t feel sorry for them.
"I can’t explain fully the significance and the inspiration these people had on me as individual," added Brandon, who previously worked as an account manager for Staff Care's behavioral health division. "I am already planning on returning with my wife on next year’s trip."
"I probably would never have done something like this if AMN had not presented the opportunity," past volunteer Karen von Boetticher, a human resources professional, told us in 2015. "I learned a lot about myself, gained fresh perspective, new friends, closer bnds with coworkers, and greater overall appreciation for what I have and where I work."
"Every day I carry my experience from Guatemala with me," added IT professional Aurelia Simpson. "I am humbled that I was a small part of a movement that brings the necessities everyone should have to these beautiful people of Guatemala."
Last year, a couple of volunteers wrote at length of their experience with AMN's 2016 Guatemala relief mission. (Read it here.) "One thing that struck me as I worked with these amazing families was how similar we all are as parents," wrote Dr. Shelina Manji, a pediatrician who also specializes in speech-language pathology.
"I saw the obvious glow of pride on parents’ faces as preschoolers showed me how they knew their ABCs and colors. I read the concern on the faces of moms as they recounted how picky their child is at meal times and how little they eat. I saw the awe of new parents as they tenderly unwrapped their bundle of joy for the 'expert' to declare all was well.
"These families struggle against so many odds, extremely limited finances, resources and opportunities, but yet they share the same hopes, dreams, and concerns of all parents. I’m excited to go back out there tomorrow, to be able to see even more patients than I saw today. What a humbling experience to be given the opportunity to bring some relief and — most of all — hope to families who have so little."
"Sometimes, helping does not sound like much," added account associate Caleb Stewart. "But when you realize that everyone has come to help in their own specialized way, it truly becomes an amazing thing to see."
"I feel fortunate to be able to join this amazing team every year and am always awestruck at the level of commitment, compassion and selflessness exhibited by all involved, but especially the nurses," Susan Salka concludes in her article for Becker's.
AMN Healthcare's Guatemala relief project is an ongoing relief mission. If you're interested in volunteering in our next mission, we invite you to contact Steve Wehn, AMN Healthcare's VP of Government & Community Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.