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Doctoral Students Help Launch Nigeria’s First PICU

Two doctoral students
DNP student Erin Dwyer, MSN, APRN, ACCNS-P, CCRN-K (left) and PhD student Rachel Baskin ‘19 MSN, RN, CPN, both in critical care roles at Nemours Children’s Health in Wilmington, Del., were in Nigeria to help pilot the country’s first PICU with a physician colleague and other volunteers.

Fitzpatrick College of Nursing PhD student Rachel Baskin ‘19 MSN, RN, CPN, is adjunct faculty for FCN and a per diem ICU Float nurse at Nemours Children’s Health in Wilmington, Del. where Erin Dwyer, MSN, APRN, ACCNS-P, CCRN-K, a student in the Post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice track, is a clinical nurse specialist in the pediatric ICU (PICU). In March, both traveled over 5500 miles to the southeast coast of Africa to provide care to critically ill children and staff education over two weeks as part of the Nigeria Pediatric ICU (PICU) Project.

The project is the brainchild of Odiraa Nwankwor, MD, MPH, a pediatric intensivist from Nigeria who cares for children at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Del. and Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ. He selected the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) in Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu as a pilot site for the first organized PICU in his country. In September 2019, he gathered donated supplies along with volunteer physicians, PICU nurses and respiratory therapists to set up the 5-bed ICU and begin conducting lectures to train staff in preparation for offering advanced health care to children that was previously unavailable. 

Answering the call from their physician colleague, both shared this sentiment from their experience at UNTH and a related collaboration at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, “We are back here now to help care for some of the first patients in the PICU. We are assisting with surgeries, rounding on patients, and doing lectures for doctors and nurses who have come from all over the country of Nigeria. It’s an amazing experience, and hopefully just the first of many trips.”