WSU team in Peru

WSU Nursing students will travel to Chiclayo, Peru in late May to work on environmental health projects with local nursing students and a nonprofit.

The Chiclayo project is the second for Washington State University College of Nursing in that South American country; WSU nurses have been part of the nonprofit People of Peru Project for more than a decade.

Vicky Sattler, a PhD alumna from the WSU College of Nursing, is leading the Chiclayo project. She’ll take about 10 students from the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs. They’ll work with nursing students from Chiclayo’s USAT – the Universidad Católica Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo – and with the nonprofit Centro ECO.

ECO works in rural areas to help residents become self-sustaining in ways both large and small, through actions that also improve community health. For instance, Sattler said, “The majority of kitchens in the rural areas do not have proper ventilation, which creates a substantial risk for respiratory problems to those living in the house.” ECO can help in a variety of ways – by measuring indoor air quality, training families on healthier cooking methods or helping build outdoor cooking facilities.

“This program is so proactive,” Sattler said, with an emphasis on addressing issues before they have the potential to harm community health. “They’ve got it pretty darn right.”

Students receive class credit for participating in the Chiclayo project, but the opportunity to work with Peruvian nursing students and gain new perspectives on health care and community health is just as valuable.

Meanwhile, the People of Peru Project will be taking an interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students to Iquitos in mid-May. The group, like other WSU teams before it, will conduct community assessments and participate in health clinics in the Amazon region, said Susan McFadden, RN, ARNP and an instructor at the WSU College of Nursing.

Like the Chiclayo program, the 23 nursing students and two pharmacy students participating get class credit for the People of Peru Project. The groups will meet up in Cusco, Peru, for a visit to the Machu Picchu ruins at the end of their programs.

Sattler says these international programs encourage adaptability and cultural awareness among students: “It changes what we know from nursing school, and we have to change with it.”