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Discovery through nursing

In her nursing scholarship application for The Research Foundation, Caroline Lipp wrote that she had always wanted to travel on a medical mission trip.

Caroline will be a senior at Research College of Nursing next semester and currently works at Research Medical Center. She received the Edward F. Higgins, MD Scholarship for the 2016-2017 academic year. Because of Dr. Higgins’ strong ties to Haiti, the scholarship is typically awarded to a student interested in mission work.

“I didn’t know what was in store for me,” Caroline said. “But Dr. Higgins approached me after the scholarship ceremony. He told me that he built a hospital in Haiti and visits four times a year. He asked me to go with him.”

Her reaction?

“Of course I wanted to go with him! Why wouldn’t you? I wanted those experiences and to further my nursing skills. I told him I would go.”

So, Caroline and Dr. Higgins, along with 13 others, headed to Fonds-Parisien, Haiti for a week.

Surgeons, medical students, nursing students and brand new nurses arrived in Haiti on a Saturday and left on a Friday. For six days, they spent time caring for the people of Fonds-Parisien by performing a wide variety of medical procedures.

“I was nervous because I felt like I was at the bottom of the totem pole. But everyone made me feel comfortable and helped me learn.”

Before she arrived in Haiti, Caroline had administered only two intravenous (IV) lines. While in Haiti, she performed more than 10.

Most of Caroline’s work exposed her to completely new experiences, both exciting and challenging. She worked oneon- one with Dr. Higgins and Dr. Joe Cates by observing their surgeries. Dr. Cates walked her through the proper techniques required to suture a patient. She also helped with two emergency cesarean sections. She hiked up a mountain with medical students and treated nearly an entire village.

The trip to Haiti helped Caroline enhance her skills as a nurse in several ways. The opportunities to learn new techniques were endless, but she also developed a sense of who she needs to become to provide the best care to patients.

“It’s given me a broader view of our world. I think I have a better understanding of what the world is like and what a diverse community needs. I just look at things differently now.”

“When I’m working at Research, I’ll sometimes run into Dr. Higgins and Dr. Cates and I’ll get so excited because I know we did great work together.”