1. Turner, Stephanie
  2. Beasley, Amy

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In recent years, the Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama, has partnered with E3 Partners to deliver medical and spiritual care to the people in Bolivia, China, Africa, and the Dominican Republic. E3 Partners (2017) is a nonprofit Christian organization that serves in over 50 countries offering short-term missions.

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Excitement was high as a group of 11 nursing students left for Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in July 2016. We were prepared to do what we do best-nursing. We had no idea the trip would bring such spiritual transformations not only to the people we treated, but ourselves.


We felt confident we could provide proper nursing care to those who came to the clinic. In Bolivia, in- country licenses to practice were not required, and we were under the direction of two E3 physicians and a Bolivian physician at the clinic. However, the nurses took copies of their U.S. credentials. Nursing students were supervised as they performed basic assessments, administered medications, performed wound care, and prayed with patients as appropriate.


As patients came to the clinic, they were greeted with warm interest. After they signed in, they proceeded through triage by three to four nursing students, who determined the reason for the patient's visit. The students documented vital signs, a brief history, and chief complaint. The clinic had a medical provider area, where patients were examined and received available treatment. There also was an optical station. On two days, a local dentist provided dental exams and tooth extractions. Patients were treated with respect. After passing through triage and the medical, eye, or dental clinic, and pharmacy when appropriate, the last station was spiritual counseling, where the gospel was presented.


Through the ability to treat the body, many also received spiritual treatment, and some received a relationship with Jesus. The students and faculty were part of many life-changing experiences.


One example is an elderly man and his wife who came to the clinic. He walked with obvious pain. while she held him tightly. Her feet were dirty and deformed. We learned they had no money for groceries and had no or little assistance. He had vascular disease in his legs, with stasis ulcers and a lack of sensory function. Once his feet and legs were uncovered, serious circulation problems were obvious. A few students knelt and began cleaning and removing dead tissue from his legs. Other students knelt before his wife and cleaned her feet and legs. Seeing our students serving God this way was humbling. The couple ate a meal while at the clinic. The gospel was shared during this time, and a few students took up a collection and bought them enough groceries to last a month. We shed a few tears for that precious couple and many others during the week. The students' view of spiritual and cultural pieces of assessment after our journey was increased.


Despite our definite language and cultural barriers, E3 Partners have preestablished relationships with local church leaders. These national partners are usually local individuals, who recruit and provide translators. Each student and healthcare provider has a personal translator for the entire trip, which provides consistency.


Reading glasses are not readily accessible in the rural communities we served. An elderly woman came to the closing worship service. She became tearful and said that she had been unable to read her Bible, due to poor eyesight. After the service, we fit her for eyeglasses. She placed them on her face and began to cry. She was overjoyed at the ability to again read the written Word.


Students and faculty members experienced that holistic care involves the spirit, not just physical care. Jesus challenged an audience by asking whether it was easier to say sins were forgiven or to heal a paralytic (Mark 2:1-12). We were blessed by witnessing the miracle of bringing physical care and spiritual healing.


E3 Partners. (2017). E3 partners. Retrieved from [Context Link]