UM-Flint Nursing Students to Set Up Health Clinics in Dominican Republic

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 UM-Flint Nursing Professor Maureen Tippen will again lead a group of 10 students beginning March 3 to the Dominican Republic to set up health clinics in rural villages.

This will be Professor Tippen's 17th trip with UM-Flint students to the Dominican Republic, and it will be the 14th year that UM-Flint staff member Becky Pettengill will accompany the group as an interpreter and mentor.

"This is certainly the most rewarding teaching experience for me," said Tippen. "I continue to do this for two reasons: the service for the people in need and the transformation it makes for students. They are never the same after a course like this."

UM-Flint nursing student in Dominican Republic in 2012
UM-Flint nursing student in Dominican Republic in 2012

The nursing students will spend their spring break participating in this International Service Learning Course. Pettengill will use her vacation time to join them.

"I was influenced by my urban sociology courses taught by Wilfred Marston, and he instilled in his students a desire to experience a different culture through the eyes and institutions of its people," noted Pettengill. "Working with Maureen in small villages, churches, schools, and public hospitals, helps you understand how resourceful and resilient people are."

Pettengill said she also has a selfish reason for participating: to maintain and hopefully improve her Spanish language proficiency.

UM-Flint Corporate & Foundation Relations Senior Officer Becky Pettengill acts as translator and mentor
UM-Flint Corporate & Foundation Relations Senior Officer Becky Pettengill acts as interpreter and mentor

The students will help provide workshops on family planning, women's and children's health, safe storage of food, and asthma education for people living in medically under-served parts of the country.

Each trip requires countless hours of preparation. Professor Tippen involves students in collecting medical equipment and supplies, toys, and other items for the trip. Often, they bring several hundred pounds of donated medical and other supplies.

UM-Flint Department of Nursing Director Marge Andrews said, "With so many leisure activities beckoning for their time during spring break, it's refreshing to see faculty, staff, and students engaged in such a meaningful and worthwhile activity. Kudos to each of the students, Professor Tippen, and Ms. Pettengill."

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