My international experience in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India was truly life-changing. Our group had the opportunity to explore and learn about many facets of the healthcare that is available in this impoverished area. We worked with a non-profit organization, the Niranjana Public Welfare Trust, which allowed us access to the services they provide (an orphanage, a health clinic, and a school), as well as to the members of the community. Our ultimate goal was to ascertain what kind of health education program future UVA students might be able to put into action that would be accepted by the community and would be sustainable over the years. To help us toward our goal, we interviewed both homeopathic and allopathic doctors, interviewed nurses and teachers, toured a large government hospital, attended patient appointments, and explored some of the work that another non-profit organization, People First, is doing in the area related to healthcare. Through our assessment we determined that a women’s health education initiative would be both beneficial to the women in Bodh Gaya and practical for UVA students to implement.
When I decided to begin a career in nursing, it was with the intention of ultimately becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner who would have the ability to both implement change and provide education at the primary care level. Having the opportunity to help create a health education program to be run within a rural impoverished area in India revitalized my passion for primary care and my professional ambitions to work with families at a community level. Longer term, I plan to pursue either a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. With either degree, I would like to further my impact by investigating the most effective methods of delivering preventive care in a primary care setting. I hope to have the opportunity to travel abroad in the future, and I hope to find out if upcoming classes of CNL students were able to use the information we gathered on this trip to implement the kind of health education program our group envisioned.