The fifty-seventh episode of The College Handoff is “Cultural Awareness and US Embassy Nursing.” This episode features Marie Lewis, a former nurse at the US Embassies of Morocco and Jordan. She currently works at Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Clinic, which treats uninsured and underserved populations. Charity Cordova, a second-semester student at the BYU College of Nursing, is also featured.
Marie’s work at the US Embassies in Morocco and Jordan was diverse and unpredictable. Some days were slow and straightforward in the primary and urgent care clinics. Other days were full of prescribing patients medications for their various ailments. On rare occasions, people in line for a VISA would faint from heatstroke while some guards would go into anaphylactic shock. Marie loved this diversity and unpredictability, though. She also loved the different cultures and religions she got to experience and how cultural, and religious beliefs played into caring for her patients.
One of Marie’s main attractions to working at Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Clinic was its connection to her previous experience as an embassy nurse. “It was very similar to what I was doing in the embassy. And I love the need for education. I love to educate, and this population needs it so much.” As someone who works with uninsured individuals, Marie has a unique experience with nursing as many of her patients are part of underserved populations living in poverty. Many of them lack the education we tend to take for granted. “There are times where you recognize that someone can’t read or write. I just had a gestational diabetes patient and struggled to understand why she couldn’t play with the syringe and get the correct units for the insulin. I just couldn’t figure it out. And as we played with that insulin syringe trying to figure it out, she finally just looked at me and said, “You know I can’t read.” I didn’t know that. And that made things different because when I’m talking about going in increments of five or increments of ten to get to twelve, she doesn’t understand that. I had a translator phone for Spanish as well. So we have to develop creative ideas for folks who need extra help. It was awesome to show her to pull to the ten and then count one, two for twelve. And I learned how to speak a little bit of that in Spanish, which was helpful. I love the population for one thing because this is what I’ve been exposed to for the last twenty years. I can empathize. I can do basic greetings. I just love it.”
Marie has learned to be adaptable between embassy nursing and nursing for uninsured and underserved populations. She credits her adaptability to her education. “I think that’s the beauty of all of this as I look back on the past thirty-three years: your foundation was laid in nursing school, and when you think you can’t do something, trust that foundation because you can be flexible and learn to adapt.”
Charity’s interview focuses on her experience writing a song for her final project for her first-semester class with Dr. Valentine. Her primary inspiration came from striving to use the Healer’s art by viewing patients as God sees them, a struggle for many nurses. Her song also contains reflections on the atonement of Jesus Christ and the eternal love we all receive through His sacrifice, as well as the struggle to achieve health equity and individualized care.
Writing this song heavily impacted Charity’s relationship with the Healer’s art and Jesus Christ. “This song helped me realize how present the Savior is in healing. I know that He loves every one of us and that He’s always there for us, but while writing the song, I realized how intimately He is involved in this profession specifically, which I appreciate. My understanding of the Savior has grown a lot through this because I’ve been able to apply what He has done to what I want to do. Even before having worked as a nurse, I’ve been able to feel how important God’s children are to Him and how important I am to Him. As a nurse, you have many opportunities to practice the Healer’s art, and I’m grateful for that opportunity,” she says. “I’m super excited to be involved in that and grateful to work side by side with the Savior in helping heal His children. I am very grateful for the times that the Savior has healed me, and many of those experiences were brought to my remembrance as I did this. I know that He’s there. I know that He wants what’s best for all his kids, and that includes me as a nurse. He is going to help me help others.”
If you want to listen to the full episode that features insights into Marie’s time abroad as an embassy nurse, the inspiration behind Charity’s song, and a recording of Charity performing her song, go to https://thecollegehandoff.podbean.com/e/cultural-awareness-and-us-embassy-nursing/ or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.