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Nursing students teach at Women’s Congress in Dominican Republic

In the bateyes, Francis Cunningham teaches about hypertension using narrow and wide straws to illustrate arterial changes and blood flow with high blood pressure. Fellow nursing students Jacqueline Cembrook and Liz Long were also presenting.


A rare opportunity presented itself to the Villanova Nursing group during their global health experience in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic during fall break in October. The group was the sole invited health care presenter at Women’s Congress 2013, sponsored by Good Samaritan Hospital. Assistant professors Tamara Kear, PhD, RN, CNN and Amy McKeever, PhD, RN, CRNP, WHNP-BC along with Cathy McDonald, MSN, RN, adjunct faculty, accompanied eight junior and six senior nursing students to the Caribbean nation after the students prepared and translated a variety of health lectures.

The Congress is a weekend event of fellowship and relaxation for underserved women of all ages who are normally living in harsh conditions. The weekend includes one invited health care group to offer education to the women. This year, Villanova’s College of Nursing was that group.

Of the 130 women in attendance, 45 were lay health promoters who work amongst their communities and are often the first line educators and care takers of area residents. This number represents 83% of the health promoters supported by Good Samaritan Hospital. 

What of the impact? Senior Meghan Skrynecki explains, “Presenting at the Women's Congress was a phenomenal experience.  We were privileged to work with a group of enthusiastic, engaged, and inquisitive women, many of whom were health promoters who will share their new knowledge with members of their communities.”  

The students presented topics including dental care, hypertension management (while offering blood pressure screening and shoulder massages), heat-related illness and dehydration prevention techniques. They further engaged their audience with a healthy cooking demonstration of lentil soup, vegetable tortilla wraps and baked yucca—the crowd favorite. They distributed the recipes for the meals-in Spanish- to the women.

After the Congress, the students replicated many of their presentations to community members in the bateyes, impoverished areas stemming from the sugar cane industry.

Brian Hartmann takes the show on the road, sharing the dehydration poster with the large crowd at the 2013 Women's Congress. Posters are left behind by the students so that learning continues.
Meghan Skrynecki, an NROTC student in Nursing, (left) leads fellow students a highly rated cooking demonstration for the Women's Congress.