In many regions of the world with limited access to health providers, nurses play an essential role in reducing the burden of pediatric disease. To help improve the delivery of high-quality healthcare to children worldwide, the Global Health Program at Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., offers a two-year fellowship program for currently employed nurses. We recently spoke with Michele Morin, RN, MSN, a Global Nursing Fellow who has traveled to Rwanda and Ghana through the program to assist and train local healthcare providers, about her experiences and the differences between pediatric nursing domestically and abroad.
NN: Can you share a little bit about yourself and your nursing career trajectory?
Michele: I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in 1989 and my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in 2002, which is when I started working at Boston Children’s Hospital as a staff nurse in the emergency department. I held positions as a charge nurse and a nurse manager before transitioning to the clinical nurse specialist role.
NN: What led you to apply to become a Global Nursing Fellow?
Michele: I participated in several medical missions earlier in my career and I have been a member of the Massachusetts-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team since 2000, so it was a natural progression for me to apply to this wonderful program. I saw the program as an opportunity to have access to Boston Children’s Hospital resources, learn from very experienced and talented clinicians, and expand my experience and knowledge.
NN: What is one difference between caring for children abroad?
Michele: Here in Boston, a child is usually accompanied by many adults who are part of the patient’s care. However, in my experience globally, I dealt primarily with mothers who rarely left the children’s/child’s side. When caring for these vulnerable children, you are essentially caring for their mothers as well. You need to ensure they have a place to care for their child, food for the family and access to healthcare after discharge. One of the beauties of pediatrics is that you get to impact a family!
NN: What is the most rewarding aspect of the program?
Michele: The most rewarding aspect is the difference I can make in a child or family’s life. As a Global Nursing Fellow, I can bring the expertise of Boston Children’s Hospital to an area with limited resources and education, and impact them for life.
NN: What is the most challenging aspect of your role at Boston Children’s Hospital? What is the most challenging aspect abroad as a Global Nursing Fellow?
Michele: At the hospital, the most challenging aspects are the complexity of care we see in the emergency department and the dynamics of families. In the emergency department, we constantly meet new challenges and demands and have a short window of time to make a difference, establish trust and to treat each patient. It is a challenge to build trust with a patient or a family when you only meet them for a short time. Time is a challenge abroad as well, because each visit is only two weeks long. You want to accomplish as much as you can, but are limited by time, resources and, at times, cultural boundaries.
NN: How did your background prepare you for this program?
Michele: I have a strong clinical background in pediatric emergency nursing, which prepared me for the unexpected and the need to be flexible. What I felt I needed more preparation with is being patient. At my hospital in the United States, we have access to all areas of expertise within the medical team, which is not always the case globally. I had to learn how to avoid setting unrealistic goals and to work within the system.