TCW nursing student from Hillsboro practiced skills in Belize

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TIFFANI STAHL
One Tabor College-Wichita student experienced a new culture in April when she traveled to a third-world country slightly smaller than Massachusetts on the coastline of the Caribbean Sea.

Debbie Sturgeon, Hillsboro, spent 13 days in Belize, from April 18 to April 30, on the way to completing a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing at Tabor College Wichita. She received her degree May 25.

“I have never worked with people who have been so poverty stricken,” Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon worked at the Belize Mission and Retreat Center, which serves a large area for healthcare in Gales Point, Belize.

“Gales Point is a town or village of about 500 people that serves a rural section of Belize,” Sturgeon said. “It is the only clinic to serve a 60-mile range.”

Sixty miles does not seem far, but since there are only three highways in the entire country and no highway that goes through Gales Point, access to the clinic is limited, she said.

Sturgeon primarily served children, who make up 50 percent of the population in Belize. She immunized the children and did adult assessments, too. She also spent a day in orphanages.

She expected to become close to the people she worked with and served, but also felt she was truly blessed by them.

Sturgeon took a boat into the village because Gales Point is located partly on the beach and partly in the rainforest.

“One thing that is prevalent there is malaria, so I (had) to take all precautions ahead of time,” she said.

Sturgeon was waiting for a chance to engage herself in a mission-trip experience. She got that opportunity through the TCW nursing program. Registered nursing and bachelor of science nursing students need 124 credit hours to graduate.

The RN-BSN program consists of 40 hours and usually takes about 18 months to complete. Part of these credits are completed in practicum credits.

The program is designed for registered nurses who have either graduated from a diploma program or an associate degree program and are seeking their bachelor degrees while working their jobs, said Jane Perkins, chair of the nursing education department.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for Debbie to experience service learning and intercultural awareness,” Perkins said.

“God has been working on my life, and it is something that I wanted to do,” Sturgeon said. “I more or less told him that if this is what he wanted he would open doors and he did.”

Tiffani Stahl is a Tabor student who wrote this article during an internship with the college’s public-relations department.

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