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Medical Practice Establishes Nurse Travel Scholarships

Article by Helen Akinc      

Led by Stephen Anderson, M.D., retired, one of the founding members of Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates, doctors and staff in Winston-Salem, NC individually contributed to establish two travel scholarships for nurses from Forsyth Medical Center to participate in Kybele programs. It all began at a Christmas party when Stephen Anderson bumped into Medge Owen and they started talking about Kybele. Medge explained that nurses were essential to the team mix but it was financially straining for many to participate. In a recent conversation, he was reluctant to take credit for being the impetus behind this gift, but instead focused on the generosity of everyone involved. He also spoke of the importance of helping people one knows as that creates confidence about how a gift will be put to use, and talked about his respect and admiration for what Kybele has been able to achieve. 

Scott Washburn, one of the M.D.’s in the practice (aka “the salsa doc”-see article), outlined other benefits resulting from these scholarships. Obviously, it helps Kybele, because the organization depends on the volunteer efforts of medical professionals as program participants. Dr. Washburn observed that nurses who travel with Kybele return to be much better nurses, for a variety of reasons. The conditions where Kybele operates are diverse and in many cases lack what Western hospitals would consider essential, but the team gets the job done in whatever conditions are present, even without the computers, monitors, and other automatic equipment, team members are accustomed to using. It is important to treat the patient, first and foremost, with or without fancy equipment. This is an important learning experience and results in an increased corporate IQ.  Consequently, while this assists Kybele, the experience also serves as developmental learning for those nurses.  Of course, he continued, travelling on this type of mission also tends to ignite a sense of service and altruism, and motivates the medical professional. 

Lauren Reavis, a nurse at Forsyth Medical Center, was a recipient of a scholarship to travel with the Kybele team to Ghana. Recently, she wrote a reflection piece on what the trip meant to her. The following two paragraphs summarize some of the trip’s impact on her:

“I will say the most profound impact on me has been the perspective that this trip provides.  More often than not, we as Americans are so protected from the harsh realities of life.  We take so much for granted in our daily lives, as well as, in our healthcare and careers.  There are so many safety-nets and buffers in place the large majority of people are conditioned to believe that resources have an indefinite supply, when the reality is everything comes at a cost.  In Ghana, this is much more evident because they conserve and reuse to prevent waste, at times probably to an unsafe degree, but still this is something that sticks with me every day.  

Furthermore, I have learned lessons about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and having a team based approach to hospital administration.  This has helped me look more critically at things we implement in practice to make sure they are sustainable systems that can work long-term… Traveling to Ghana will continue to be a very enriching experience.  While, it takes financial resources, time, and a commitment to be involved, it is an experience that continues to give back.  Just last week, I was in a corporate meeting for Novant Nursing and I was able to share a little nugget about a parallel in our practice and their practice – it was great and everyone around the table benefited from the perspective.  Though most of what I carry with me from this trip will silently impact my practice and insight forever more, there is no doubt a mark left that cannot be undone.

(from Ghana Lyndhurst document, Lauren Reavis; quoted with permission)

Kybele thanks all of you at Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates!  We are most grateful for your generosity.