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### Clemson nursing student’s career trajectory revitalized by overseas summer internship

February 20, 2024

During a summer internship at two medical facilities in East Africa, Rachel Girvin, a nursing student at Clemson University, gained valuable insights into the significance of approaching patient care with deliberation, especially in emergency scenarios. This experience also sparked a new trajectory for her career.

Arusha, a vibrant city in Tanzania near the border with Kenya, boasts a population of 535,000 residents and serves as a pivotal point for accessing the region’s renowned tourist spots. Characterized by bustling streets and local markets, Arusha offers a rich tapestry of community life.

Girvin commenced her internship at Ngarenaro Hospital, a renowned center specializing in natural birthing processes, where she actively participated in numerous deliveries under the guidance of medical professionals.

Transitioning to Selian Lutheran Hospital for the latter part of her internship, Girvin had the opportunity to rotate through various units including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as well as the emergency and surgical departments, broadening her exposure to diverse facets of healthcare provision.

Throughout her time at these institutions, Girvin acquired crucial skills in delivering medical care under resource constraints, a proficiency that equips her to navigate emergencies with ingenuity in the absence of immediate medical assistance. Additionally, she imbibed the value of a measured pace, which profoundly influenced her approach to patient interaction.

Reflecting on her experience, Girvin noted the cultural ethos of Tanzania, described as ‘pole pole,’ emphasizing a slower and more intentional way of life compared to the hurried pace often observed in American society.

Originally slated to volunteer at a clinic in Guatemala, Girvin’s plans took an unexpected turn leading her to pursue the internship in Tanzania after her initial trip was canceled. Leveraging the Honors Educational Enrichment Travel Grant, Girvin was able to fund her travel expenses, enabling her to seize this transformative opportunity abroad.

Eric Pernotto, the director of experiential learning, highlighted the significance of such international internships in shaping students’ practical understanding and fostering a global perspective aligned with their academic pursuits.

Leslie Ravan, the director of undergraduate programs at Clemson University School of Nursing, underscored the value of study abroad experiences in cultivating a nuanced comprehension of global healthcare dynamics, which in turn enhances students’ adaptability and proficiency in diverse healthcare settings.

Girvin’s immersion in Tanzanian healthcare practices has steered her academic focus towards nurse-midwifery, inspired by her passion for women’s health. She envisions gaining comprehensive nursing experience in an emergency department before specializing in nurse-midwifery and actively participating in medical missions.

Mary Kaeppler, Girvin’s former nursing clinical instructor, commended her exceptional aptitude, diligence, and compassionate approach towards patient care, traits that are fundamental to her success in the nursing profession.

This enriching experience has not only broadened Girvin’s career horizons but has also instilled in her a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of healthcare delivery, setting a solid foundation for her future endeavors in the field of nursing.