May 9th – 13th is National Nurses Week in Canada which also overlaps with International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12th.
The Canadian Nurses Association theme, Nurses: With you every step of the way, emphasizes how important nurses are in our lives — at every age, in all health situations, for all Canadians.
Not only are nurses working hard in Canada to provide patients with adequate care, but many are using their vacation time, taking leave from their jobs and making it work to volunteer their time with Mercy Ships onboard the Africa Mercy.
Since August 2015, over 40 Canadian nurses have volunteered onboard the ship. We interviewed 26-year-old Nurse Jill Peacock from Saskatoon after she returned from Madagascar and want to share with you a bit about her experience.
MSCA: What was your position on the ship?
Nurse Jill: Ward Nurse on A Ward which was plastic surgery at the time
MSCA: Do you think your experience changed you if at all?
Nurse Jill: I think it did in many ways. Some of which I realize and some I don’t think I even realize yet. One of the patient’s caregivers on the ship had a big impact on me. Dyllan (9y ear sold) has had several plastic surgeries during both field services in Madagascar. His grandmother has been his main caregiver through it all so that his parents could stay at home with his brother and continue working their jobs. Just the love she has for him is so amazing to watch in the ways she cares for him so well. And not only that, she cares for everyone like that. She made you feel like you had known her your whole life from the moment you met her. She was constantly helping and caring for Dyllan and many other patients, playing cards and dominos with other care givers and patients, and making crafts for everyone.
You could tell she was also really good at providing emotional support for other patients and caregivers and would sit and visit and listen to so many. Anyways I learned a lot about what loving your neighbor truly means by watching her and spending time with her. When I said my goodbyes to her I told her how I admired her for making everyone feel like family and cared for. She told me its Jesus in her is why she cares for others. Growing up in a Christian home I have heard from the time I was little we love because He first loved us. But wow I have never seen it put into action as beautifully then when I watched her. It inspires me to try to love others like she does and why she does. And it’s crazy to think I learned so much from her and yet we don’t even speak the same language. With her and all the other caregivers and patients it just seemed that all those beautiful unspoken moments meant so much more to me than most conversations.
MSCA: What are your plans now that you are home?
Nurse Jill: I liked working with the pediatric patients so much that I decided to switch from adult nursing on orthopedics and took a temp position on pediatrics back home so that I could learn more in this area.
MSCA: Has your time with Mercy Ships impacted your career?
Nurse Jill: It makes me want to go into work at home with a better attitude. It was such a positive work environment on the ship to work with people who were choosing to be there. I was sad to have to leave that environment and return to work at home. But it has inspired me to work towards that here. I think everyone deserves the chance to work in that kind of environment, as well as patients should get the chance to be cared for in surroundings where you are made to feel like part of a family.
MSCA: Can you share a particular moving/memorable story from your service with us?
Nurse Jill: There was honestly a moving story happen on every shift. But there are a couple that come to mind. There was one day that this little baby was crying so much and he just wouldn’t settle. He was fasting for surgery so his mom couldn’t breastfeed him which he wasn’t happy about. And even she couldn’t seem to calm him. Then a dad of another patient came over and offered to help. He was like a baby whisperer. The moment he picked him up he stopped crying, it was pretty amazing. But then his son, who was just a little toddler, came over and I thought oh know he is going to be mad his dad is holding someone else. But instead he just asked his dad to kneel down so that he could kiss the little baby on the forehead. It was so beautiful and it’s just a wonderful picture of how the patients and their caregivers become like family and are there to support each other.
MSCA: What advice would you give to new volunteers preparing to leave for the Africa Mercy?
Nurse Jill: When I applied to do Mercy Ships I thought I would go for a shorter time and see if I liked it. If so I could always apply to go for a longer time in the future once I knew what it was like. But I would encourage people just to apply for a longer time from the get go. It takes a while to get use to ship life and by the time I was really in a “groove” and things felt normal it was time to leave. Also I realized that every field service experience will be so different depending on patients and staff that are there that you may come back to the ship with preconceived notions of how it will be but that may not be the case.
MSCA: Would you consider returning to the ship?
Nurse Jill: I would definitely consider coming back!
We are so thankful for each and every nurse who volunteers their time and tills to help change and save people’s lives in the countries Mercy Ships serves. The level of care provided to our patients would not be possible without our hardworking nurses. We salute and thank you!