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August 2009 Issue

During a trip to Honduras, nursing student Norma O達rien found herself tending to an emergency situation where a mother was in the midst of delivering a baby who was being strangled by the umbilical cord.
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Nursing Student Becomes Last-Minute Hero on School Trip

By Angela Koenig
Published August 2009

Nursing student Norma O達rien decided to skip the talent show but wound up being a rock star anyway.

Earlier this summer, O達rien was one of six senior year nursing students who participated in an international clinical experience in Honduras.
During the 12-day trip, which fulfills the clinical component of a community health nursing course, O達rien knew she壇 be part of a child health brigade, serving with a multidisciplinary team of nursing and medical students, residents, physicians, dentists and other allied health professionals.

Initially the trip was very enlightening, O達rien says, but it was pretty much uneventful until the night before departure when she opted to be on call in the clinic instead of participating in a talent show that wrapped up the trip.
的知 37 and I just really didn稚 want to do it, she jokes now, citing shyness. As it happened, her true talent預s a skilled nurse謡as needed.

Within minutes of clinic duty O達rien was tending to an already stabilized patient when the only other health care worker on site預 Honduran nurse幼ame into the room, frantically speaking in Spanish.

O達rien followed the nurse to another exam room and encountered a crisis: an expectant mother in the throes of childbirth, with something terribly wrong. The baby痴 head was out but completely blue, the umbilical cord wound tightly around the neck.

的t was the darkest blue I壇 ever seen, says O達rien, whose four years of training went into full tilt.
First, she carefully unwrapped the cord and clamped it off in order to detach the baby from the mother. But the baby was still not breathing.

She then tried to start a suction tube, but the machine wasn稚 getting any power. The next thing she did was grab a bulb syringe and manually remove mucus blocking the baby痴 airway. 

徹nce the baby started to cry, I started to cry, she says, adding, 敵oing down there I thought I might get to see a delivery, but I didn稚 know I was going to be the one to do it!

While there were physicians nearby, O達rien 塗ad to act immediately to save the child痴 life, says   Roberta Lee, the assistant professor of clinical nursing who led the group.

Lee taught the course with nursing associate professor Tina Weitkamp, director of the College of Nursing痴 Center for International Affairs.

典hings don稚 always work in a foreign country like they do here, but you never know what痴 going to happen in community nursing regardless of location, says Lee, who has worked extensively abroad in nursing and public health.

However, O達rien, who now has her bachelor痴 degree in nursing, does know what痴 going to happen next預t least career-wise.

的 had always wanted to go into obstetrics but had just kind of given up due to the competition. This
experience seemed to reaffirm that where I want to be is obstetrics.

鄭nyone would be lucky to get her, says Lee of O達rien. 鉄he knows what to do.

The service trip was coordinated through the Honduran Ministry of Health through Shoulder to Shoulder, an international organization, which uses primary health care, nursing services, public health, dental care, nutrition and education to improve health outcomes in poor communities. 

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