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Nurses Give Back to Help Those in Need

Sarah Kearns, December 15, 2009

Nurses often try to find ways to do more for the profession that they love. In many facilities, nurses make note of how they can help and lend a hand to those in need.

One nurse who is lending a hand to others is psychiatric nurse, Trisha Pearce. Pearce witnessed firsthand what the war can do to returning soldiers and their families when her brothers returned from Vietnam and the Gulf War.

Pearce, with more than three decades worth of experience in mental health and chemical dependency, did not want to see returning soldiers suffer without help, so she founded the Soldiers Project Northwest in 2007.

The project reaches out to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with active-duty personnel and military families. The project provides free, confidential, therapeutic counseling, and aims to educate communities on the psychological effects of the war. Volunteers also benefit from the project, and are able to receive training to better aid these soldiers and their families.

There are currently 57 volunteers involved with the project that is now an affiliate of the Los Angeles-based national Soldiers Project. Pearce volunteers more than 20 hours a week to ensure military families can receive the support they need. Named the Outstanding Female Non-Veteran of the Year by the Washington state Department of Veterans Affairs, Pearce rode in the Auburn Veterans Day parade alongside groups of veterans.

Another nurse who has been practicing for more than three decades is also leaving her mark and helping those hospitals in third-world countries.

After her first medical mission trip to the Amazon in South America, Mary McMahon, a nurse from Georgia, returned home and founded the nonprofit organization, Nurses for the Nations. The organization is gearing up for an 11-day trip to Liberia in January, where nurses will test for malaria, provide mosquito nets, and teach sanitation and proper use of the nets in six remote villages.

The philosophy of Nurses for Nations is to focus on one small region of the world at a time, which McMahon believes can inspire long-term change. McMahon plans to turn the organization's focus on another medically desperate part of the world during the next three to five years.


Sarah Kearns is an editor for two nursing e-newsletters: Nurse Manager Weekly and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also contributes to Briefings on Patient Safety and is reachable at skearns@hcpro.com.

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