Volunteer Spotlight

Uganda Alumni Team web
Alumni volunteers in Uganda
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School of Nursing faculty member Sarah Wickenhagen, RN, FNP '05, DNP '13 recently returned from a medical trip to Uganda where she and fellow alums Pam Hiransomboom-Vogel, RN, BS'07, FNP '11, DNP '13 and Katherine Hammond, RN, FNP '12, DNP '13 served as medical providers to over 2300 patients in 10 days of clinic in two different locations in Uganda.  The first was in the inner city slums of Kawempe, and the second was a very small and remote village in Eastern Uganda called Nangaiza.

The group traveled to Uganda to work with Project Helping Hands, a nonprofit medical organization that sends teams of volunteers to provide medical care and health education for people in developing nations. Sarah said the alums chose to work with Project Helping Hands because it was founded by a nurse and focuses largely on long term sustainability and education for patients.

For Sarah and her colleagues the experience of practicing in Uganda was very enlightening. "We learned how to be more focused and to use non-traditional methods to meet the needs of the patients in front of us. Sometimes that meant using more holistic and naturopathic approaches if antibiotics weren't available. We also had to be thoughtful about the resources that were available to the patients. We couldn't just say take a bath because water supply wasn't as prevalent for our patients."

While in Uganda, Sarah, Katherine and Pam met up with alumni Kristy Shortridge, RN, BS'06, FNP'09 who is working for Show Mercy International. Kristy is living and working in Uganda functioning as the sole medical care provider to a village outside of the capital. 

Sarah used all her PTO and even took leave without pay in order to go on this trip, but said it was well worth it. When asked about the helpfulness of her training at OHSU, Sarah commented that all four alums were incredibly prepared as Advanced Practice Nurses to act as independent medical practitioners and to provide much needed care to patients with significant social and health disparities.

Are you or your classmates working on unique projects that are helping our community? Volunteering your time with an interesting program? We want to hear from you! Share your stories and photos with the Alumni Relations Program and you just might be featured in our next edition of Connections or SON Alumni E-News.