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UW Profiles

A Summer in Ghana

Nursing student Brook Weiss gained valuable experience and made a real-world difference during her summer internship.

By Micaela Myers

With grandparents who spent 10 years sailing their yacht around the world, nursing student Brooke Weiss of Parker, Colo., developed a wanderlust early in life. In the summer of 2014, her love of nursing and travel joined forces for a summer-long internship in Ghana.

Nursing Student Brooke WeissHands-on learning: “I learned all about malaria, sickle cell disease, tuberculosis, AIDS and syphilis firsthand,” Weiss says of her internship experience. “But the most rewarding aspect was knowing that I was making a difference.

“During the week, I lived with a family in the town of Breman Asikuma. The first month I was in the maternity ward at Our Lady of Grace Hospital. By the end of that month, I was able to help with deliveries, take the infants’ vital signs, give the babies baths and all sorts of stuff.

“The next month I worked in the hospital laboratory, which I thought would be interesting because not a lot of nurses get that experience. We did a lot of microscopic studies. Before I left each day, I had to tell them what I learned.”

Weiss, a senior who graduates with her bachelor’s degree in nursing May 2015, says the emphasis on learning real-world skills was one of the highlights of her time in Ghana.

The University of Wyoming International Programs office connected Weiss with the internship, and her two months abroad created lasting friendships. “The friends I made there contact me on a daily basis just wishing me luck. It’s rewarding to know that they care, and they valued my two months there.”

Lasting connections: In addition to staying in touch long distance, Weiss returned to Wyoming with the goal of using online sites for crowdfunding to raise money for needed laboratory equipment at the hospital. “There is a great deal of crucial diagnostic testing that they need to do for diseases but can’t because they don’t have the machines, or they have faulty equipment. It would be a huge thing to help them out.

“Additionally, I want to raise money to help build an expansion of the maternity ward, which is a project that’s already ongoing. Lots of the mothers actually sleep on cement floors in the ward with their newborns. As you’re walking through to do your rounds, you have to make sure you don’t step on a child, which is so crazy to see. They’re trying to expand the facility so that they have more beds and that doesn’t have to happen anymore.”

Weiss hopes to work as an emergency room or intensive care unit nurse after graduation and eventually wants to return to school to specialize or become a nurse practitioner. She also plans on returning to Ghana one day soon. “I want to see the supplies being used and the new maternity ward. I want to keep going back and to keep helping them throughout my career.”

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