Hello From the Himalayas!

Hi, my name is Abby and I am a rising Junior in the Nursing program at Pitt! Currently I am pursing a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and a Global Health Certificate. Currently, I work as a research assistant under Dr. Jamie Zelazny, looking at the correlation between suicidal ideation in children and social media usage. Eventually, I hope to work as a travel nurse in an ICU setting before going back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner. This summer I chose to partake in the Health in the Himalayas and Wilderness First Responder study abroad in Mussoorie, Uttrakhand, India, a small town in the middle Himalayas about 3 hours from the capital of India, Delhi. The program includes 2 courses, the first being a didactic class on Health in the Himalayas and how medicine differs in a non-western context, while the second course is an experiential certification for Wilderness First Responders focusing on backcountry medicine.

While looking for a study abroad program for this summer, the Himalayan Health and Wilderness First Responder Program was the only option that I felt could provide me with the cultural immersion and occupational engagement that I was looking for. The credits were directly applicable to my major, and unlike programs in Europe, India provides a unique opportunity to engage with a culture vastly different from that in the United States and Pittsburgh. As a future nurse and healthcare professional, I feel that cultural exploration is a great tool to build empathy and create a more pluralistic outlook on the healthcare field in general. The US healthcare system is obviously not the most equitable or fair model, and the only way to work to improve it without furthering disparities is to explore other forms of healthcare and think critically about their benefits and downfalls. I’m incredibly excited to take part in community clinical experiences at local villages and hospitals in the Himalayan area!

One of the largest draws of this particular program, was the change to learn emergency medicine in a setting that is not urban. The Wilderness First Responder course is a step outside of my comfort zone of hospital settings, considering “Wilderness” is defined as being at least one hour away from definitive care. Having the ability to think on my feet and navigate patient care without the plethora of resources that come in an ambulance or on a hospital floor is something that will both help me within and outside of my career as a nurse. I often backpack and camp with my friends and family, and these skills are vital to anyone entering the backcountry who is responsible for the health of themselves and others. But within my professional life, experience thinking on my feet and developing innovative solutions that are not instantly accessible will aid in my critical thinking skills when taking care of patients in the hospital. I can’t wait to learn from this program and to explore the beautiful setting that surrounds me!

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