Africa Mercy is the largest ship in Mercy Ships' fleet, with 8 operating suites and a crew of 450.
Africa Mercy is the largest ship in Mercy Ships’ fleet. Photo courtesy Mercy Ships.

Emilie Kimball’s nursing degree will take her across the globe later this month to volunteer for Mercy Ships in Africa.

Kimball said she views it as her third “career” in nursing in the six years since she graduated from the WSU College of Nursing. She worked in the surgical unit at Seattle Children’s, then in the pediatric intensive care unit there.

Emilie Kimball, BSN '11, will volunteer for 10 weeks in Africa with Mercy Ships.
Emilie Kimball, BSN ’11, will volunteer for 10 weeks in Africa with Mercy Ships.

She’ll be a ward nurse on the Africa Mercy, the largest civilian hospital ship in the world with five operating rooms and 80 patient beds, docked for 10 months in Douala, Cameroon. Mercy Ships, a faith-based nonprofit, provides surgery and dental care and trains local doctors and nurses in specific areas of expertise.

Kimball heard about Mercy Ships a few years ago and was intrigued, she said. Then she discovered her employer, Seattle Children’s, offers sabbaticals after just five years of service.

“I decided it was time, applied for sabbatical, applied for Mercy Ships, and here I am one month out” from her Sept. 30 departure, she said recently. She’ll work on the ship for 10 weeks, then plans to travel before returning to Seattle.

That’s the kind of flexibility and adventure a nursing career can offer, said Kimball, 28.

“Nursing is such a great career,” she said. “It fits my personality to a T. I love the science behind it, I like the critical thinking, I like caring for people. It’s fun to see how nursing can be used in different ways.”

Kimball came by the profession naturally. She jokes that she graduated nursing school twice, since her mother was pregnant with Emilie in 1988 when she graduated from the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education. ICNE eventually became the WSU College of Nursing.

“I knew I wanted to be a nurse since I was 3,” Kimball said, and she always knew she wanted to attend WSU for nursing school. She spent her first two years at Whitworth University.

She added, “I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a nurse. My roommate works for (a major Seattle-area employer), and being in the business world is not who she is. But for most nurses, being a nurse is who you are.”

For information on Mercy Ships, visit the organization’s website at https://www.mercyships.org/ 

Jarah Nordin, an American volunteer nurse, works with an orthopedic patient onboard Mercy Ships. Photo by Katie Keegan, courtesy of Mercy Ships.
Jarah Nordin, an American volunteer nurse, works with an orthopedic patient on board Mercy Ships. Photo by Katie Keegan, courtesy of Mercy Ships.