Spring 2010 - Vol V Issue 1
Cost of War Not Lost on Nursing Student
When a roadside bomb blew up a Humvee in his convoy in Iraq, U.S. Army Private Richard Hackett was quick to apply the basic first-aid he’d been taught.
Hackett told the soldier he’d be okay. He applied pressure and bandaged the wound. Then, he loaded the wounded man into his own Humvee and drove him as fast as he could to a hospital.
“Inside, I felt complete panic,” said Hackett, now a junior in the School of Nursing, recalling the 2003 attack.
The memory of that assault was one of many that the two-tour veteran brought with him when he enrolled at USF. And, truth be told, it was the pain and suffering he saw so regularly while serving abroad that made him want to study nursing.
“It gave me the feeling that there was so much more that I could do in situations like that,” Hackett said.
Hackett, who left high school and e arned a GED, took his war experience plus two years of training at the School of Nursing to Nicaragua this past summer. There, he spent 10 weeks working in a public hospital alongside doctors in the emergency and labor and delivery departments.
“The hardest thing was seeing wound infection complications that needed more advanced care than we had the materials to provide,” said Hackett. Such infections, caught early, are easily treated in the West thereby avoiding an operation, or, worse, an amputation.Hackett took the fully funded trip as one of 10 USF’s Sarlo Scholars – half traveling to Nicaragua, half to Uganda in summer 2009. He was the only nursing student to participate. Hackett continued his international education in January, participating in a two-week immersion trip to Guatemala focused on women’s health/maternity issues. The trip, led by Assistant Professor Linda Walsh, had students providing nursing services to a small parish hospital in San Lucas Toliman as well as to several small clinics that serve the area.
Students also accompanied local midwives in the area as they provided care in local homes. For Hackett, the experience held lessons beyond the hands-on training. He also saw how important his interactions with patients are, how important it is to not simply come into a situation, especially one with different cultural norms, and say, “This is the way it’s going to be,” he said.
“It was especially profound in Guatemala,” Hackett said. “I tried to keep things in context as much as I could, tried to figure out what was important to them as opposed to what you think is important to them.”
Hackett, who aspires to be a nurse practitioner, hopes his skills ultimately allow him to expand his efforts for improve health and community and have a “positive impact on people’s lives.”
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