A nursing education can help provide limitless opportunities. Kate Bowles, Nu’07, is a wonderful example, as she is a practicing attorney who uses her nursing background to help inform her work and who remains committed to improving global health. Kate is Secretary of the Penn Nursing Alumni Board and traveled to Vietnam on a medical mission trip with her husband, fellow Penn Nursing alum Eric Bowles, Nu’07.
On my first medical mission, my husband Eric Bowles, CRNA, Nu ’07, and I traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam in order to volunteer for Operation Walk. I was thrilled at the opportunity to use my nursing background to help others.
Operation Walk’s mission is to enhance the orthopedic surgical options for patients in developing countries, by providing free surgical treatment to patients that have no access to life-improving care for arthritis or other debilitating bone and joint conditions. The goal is to enable these patients to return to work and provide for their families.
To deliver U.S. quality care to these patients, Operation Walk invited surgery and recovery healthcare professionals to travel to Vietnam and set up four fully functioning operating rooms and a hospital unit.
On the first day, the four nurses along with a team of surgeons, internal medicine doctors, and anesthesia providers performed preoperative evaluations on about 90 patients in order to ensure they were ready for surgery. The evaluation was based on surgical, medical, and social readiness for surgery. Of the 90 patients screened, 55 met the criteria for joint replacement.
Then, on days 2 through 7, I provided post-operative care to all the patients, some with bilateral hip or knee surgeries. It was an amazing experience helping the patients to recover, and in some cases, walk for the first time in many years without a cane or wheelchair. We also trained the Vietnamese nurses in the proper post-operative management of pain and prevention of blood clots.
For one of my knee replacement patients, I nicknamed him “Smiley” because after the surgery he couldn’t stop smiling. He and the other patients were so thankful, I feel inspired to participate in another Operation Walk mission in the future.
- Kate Bowles, RN, Esq., Nu ’07