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Junior Nursing Student Frannie Weiland Finds Her Calling While Interning in Kenya

Frannie Weiland with childJunior nursing major Frannie Weiland will never forget her first real nursing job. This past summer, she joined Projects Abroad - one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world - as a volunteer nursing intern in Kenya. "I never became a certified nursing assistant in high school," Weiland noted, "so this was the first opportunity that ever presented itself to me."

For four weeks, Weiland served in the pediatrics ward of the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital, a government-owned hospital in Laikipia County. "While I could choose to volunteer in any of the wards at the hospital, my service coordinator persuaded me to try working in pediatrics, and it turned out to be the best decision of my life."

Weiland first learned of the opportunity to volunteer abroad from Dr. Carl Mentley, Lander's director of Study Abroad, as well as from fellow student Rachel Marrah, who also went abroad to Africa the previous summer. "After hearing about Rachel's experience, I knew I had to go to Africa."

When she arrived, Weiland was told that most of her internship would be observatory. However, on her first day at work, the native nursing students were quick to include her in their routine.

Frannie Weiland with child"They let me do everything they did," said Weiland.

Three to four days per week were spent in the pediatric ward of the hospital. The rest of her work week was spent doing community outreach projects, where she would help her fellow Projects Abroad volunteers distribute toothbrushes and toothpaste to local schools, and teach the local children how to brush their teeth and wash their hands.

Weiland also took part in medical outreach projects, traveling to remote villages that didn't have access to health care. There, she helped obtain and record the patients' basic vitals, screened them for HIV, and provided them with vitamins and medications prescribed by a registered nurse onsite.

Weiland attributes her recent love of pediatrics to her time spent in Kenya. "I taught some of the kids how to make paper airplanes, and suddenly getting their morning medications wasn't so bad." Upon graduation, she plans to find a career in pediatrics where she can continue working with children.

Frannie Weiland paintingIf ever asked to do it again, Weiland says she'd jump at the opportunity "in a heartbeat," stressing that her summer learning experience in Kenya has equipped her for her future career more than she ever thought possible.

"Being a student nurse in Africa and a student nurse in America are two very different things," Weiland admitted, "and yet they have both prepared me for the other. I couldn't have made it to Africa without my knowledge from Barratt Hall, and now Africa has helped me grow in my leadership, confidence and communication skills, and my ability to think critically to make do with the materials given to me."

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