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Samuel Merritt Nursing Students Spread Global Healing

Monday November 2, 2009
Aiko Loo, FNP student in La Concepcion, takes a patient’s blood pressure.
Aiko Loo, FNP student in La Concepcion, takes a patient’s blood pressure.
(Photos courtesy of Samuel Merritt University)
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Students from Samuel Merritt University nursing program exercised their healthcare skills and Spanish skills recently during a trip to South America.


Back Row: “William”, Dr. Suzanne August-Schwartz, Sara Sullivan, Dr. Mike De Rosa, Aiko Loo, Pablo Sarmiento, Jeni Cooper, Rodelia Busalpa, Monalisa LaFountain, Shital Chauhan, Middle Row: Sandeep Sivia, Evelyn Shober, Erin Collins, Clariza Aguillon-Doms, Front Row: Juan Pablo Campos Garron, “Adriana”
In mid-August, 14 students, three faculty, and two alums from SMU’s family nurse practitioner program traveled to Panama to work with the nonprofit organization Global Medical Brigades. During the weeklong stay, the group visited three villages and provided acute-care examinations, medicine, and medical assessments for nearly 500 Panamanians.

“Several of us enjoy combining our medical experience with helping others globally,” says Evelyn Shober, FNP student and trip organizer. “If we can make the world just a little bit better of a place for a few people, take away some suffering, I think that resonates throughout all of humanity.”


Suzanne August-Schwartz, DNP, FNP, and Pablo Sarmiento, FNP student in La Concepcion communicate in Spanish (both are fluent).
Entry-level Master of Science in Nursing student Pablo Sarmiento says being fluent in Spanish has its advantages, but adds, so does just being there. “You find someone with a mass in their abdomen what do you do? You don’t have an X-ray or CT scan, how do you treat these people? You treat them for the pain. That’s why I wanted to go, you really have to count on the skills you have, not the supplies you don’t have, to care for the people. Sometimes that could be a smile and an understanding nod.”

Oakland, Calif.-based SMU is celebrating 100 years of educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities.