Nursing Student Treks Himalayas to Provide Care to Villages

• from Meisha Swaby

North­eastern nursing stu­dent Ashley Cavignano’s third co- op fea­tured two starkly con­trasting health­care set­tings: Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital in Boston and Himalayan vil­lages in Nepal.

Cav­i­g­nano, BHS’16, spent her pre­vious two co- ops at Mass Gen­eral: the first in the Emer­gency Depart­ment and the second in the Neu­ro­sciences Inten­sive Care Unit. This third co- op, which she devel­oped her­self, spanned from Jan­uary to April of this year. She split time during the first two months between those same Mass Gen­eral units, and then spent the next two months preparing for and pro­viding care in Nepal with Himalayan HealthCare—a non­profit that delivers care and edu­ca­tion to poor vil­lagers in the moun­tains of Nepal.

Looking back, Cav­i­g­nano said the Nepal expe­ri­ence taught her the value of thinking out­side the box. She explained that while Boston hos­pi­tals offer world- class equip­ment, those resources aren’t avail­able in the middle of the moun­tains, so you must rely on your knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence and do the best you can with what you have. Case in point: Cavignano’s trav­eling med­ical care kit con­sisted of a stetho­scope, a blood pres­sure cuff, and a flashlight.

“It was a really good expe­ri­ence for me to see the best care in the world and then be in a remote place where I relied on my own assess­ment skills,” Cav­i­g­nano said.