Guest blogger Kim Mikula, RN, BSN, CEN, of Doylestown Hospital's
Emergency Department, shares her experiences as part of an exchange program
with Native Americans in New Mexico.
Editor's Note: Doylestown Hospital welcomed a group of Native
American nursing students from the University of New Mexico (Gallup) in
March. Several nurses from Doylestown Hospital traveled to New Mexico to
complete the exchange in September. Kim Mikula was one of them.
Read the previous blog, Expanding
Horizons One Nurse at a Time, about the nurse exchange.
The plans began in the spring of 2013. Americans for Native Americans (ANA) found a
tremendous need for health screenings in the Native American elementary
schools on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
Many Native American families will not subscribe to Western medicine.
Without any school nurses and "medical care" being provided by non-medical
personnel, the children are in need of screenings. These help identify
deficiencies that may affect their academic progress as well as their
overall health. The teachers also benefit from health screenings so they
can adapt their classrooms to the needs of the children.
On September 7, 2014, after one and a half years of planning and
fundraising, the first group of Doylestown Hospital nurses left for New
Mexico. The group included Cherie Mee (ANA board member) and Emergency Department nurses Dottie Prior and Kim
Mikula. We arrived one day early to see the area and learn some of the
culture. Cherie was on the scouting trip in 2013 so she was our area
Our first site was a to visit Window Rock, the site of the Code Talkers
Memorial, and a 3-hour tour Canyon de Chelly (Shay). Our tour guide gave us
an amazing education on Native American customs and traditions. We learned
that a strong sense of patriotism is a long-standing part of that
We spent the next three days at Baca/Dlo'Ay Azhi Community School,
grades K-6th. Of the 349 students, we were able to complete 230 health
screenings (the rest lacked permission slips). The health screenings
consisted of height, weight, vision, hearing, and color blindness for all
students as well as a partial scoliosis screening for grades 5 and 6.
We had the help of nine student nurses on the first day and eight
student nurses on the third day from the University of New Mexico, Gallup.
They were supervised by our Navajo contact and ANA board member Michele
Kellywood-Yazzie, nursing professor at University of New Mexico, Gallup. We
also trained 13 staff members on how to use the equipment so that one day
they can be independent in completing the health screenings.
On our last day we were also able to visit an Acoma tribe village on the
top of a mesa. It has no running water or electricity. Some of the families
have generators but they are only allowed to run them for short periods of
time and only on certain days of the year.
Overall, it was an unforgettable experience. We are grateful for the
opportunity to serve, train, and learn about this culture that is so
different from our own and yet such an integral part of our country's
history. ANA looks forward to going back and expanding our goal to reach
more children in more schools next year.
--Kim Mikula RN, BSN, CEN
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