We know nurses work tirelessly to make a meaningful difference in their local communities every day. But Angela Olson and Macy Henningsen are two Children’s Minnesota operating room nurses who strive to do even more. Both volunteer with Children’s Surgery International, a nonprofit, on a number of trips abroad to help spread medical knowledge beyond U.S. borders.
On a recent trip to Tanzania, a variety of health care volunteers came together with the purpose of sharing medical knowledge with local practitioners by partnering with them to perform life-altering surgeries in local communities. On this trip, Children’s Minnesota was highly represented, with more than 30 percent of volunteers from Children’s and the remaining from health care systems across the United States. Volunteer practitioners taught techniques for different types of urological and ENT surgeries, including cleft lip and palate repairs.
“I don’t get a lot of patient contact in the OR so I really enjoy that aspect of these trips,” Henningsen said.
“When you go there, you really are making a lasting impact,” Olson said. “Local practitioners are eager to learn and want to make sure they’re doing the best thing for their patients.”
On a different volunteer trip, Olson recalls one of her most memorable volunteer moments when an 8-year-old Liberian girl looked at herself in the mirror for the first time after having her cleft lip repaired. With kids often shunned for having cleft lip in Liberia, the little girl’s life had been transformed.
“It’s something I won’t forget,” Olson said.
Both Henningsen and Olson see these trips as an opportunity for mutual learning and growth. One thing the volunteers learned? How to think creatively. With medical supplies limited, local practitioners often have to find alternative solutions to treat patients while maintaining health standards.
In honor of National Nurses Week, Children’s Minnesota thanks all of its outstanding nurses for their amazing efforts in always putting kids first – no matter where they live.