During her junior year, Nursing major Rachel Rudd '18 traveled half a world away to Cambodia, as part of an Edgewood College study abroad program. Calling the experience “unforgettable and humbling,” the DePere, Wis., native had the opportunity to deliver a reflection at the United Nations Association of Dane County Annual Luncheon at Monona Terrace in Madison. Today, Ms. Rudd is a nurse at UW-Health University Hospital.
“At times I am known to be oblivious to things going on in politics, pop culture, the news, social inequities and issues pertaining to civil rights. I believe part of that is due to my inability to stop and appreciate what I have, even in moments when I believe life is too hectic. When you are forced to see that the little things you don’t appreciate could be someone else’s biggest desire or need, makes you reevaluate your mindset.
“While in Cambodia, my eyes were opened to the real problems that they were experiencing every day. Things such as basic hygiene and sex education were non- existent. For instance, when living in such intense climates, and only having access to eight ounces of water a day or experiencing things such as worms and head lice for years on end are just a few of the issues that they experience continuously throughout their lives.
“After these experiences, it forced me to think critically about what is really happening in our world and what caused these things. Personally, it makes me appreciate the opportunities and things that I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. I have not only gained cultural awareness but I now have a new understanding of what it means to provide culturally competent care and the focus of a holistic nursing approach.
“I believe my role as a nurse is not only to treat my patients in acute settings, but help them make the changes they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. My travel to Cambodia has largely impacted my passion for helping others and the belief that providing holistic care embodies the needs of my patients beyond the bedside. Cambodia made me realize the importance of asking why and questioning why things are the way they are. As nurses we need to question the disparities we see and really think about why they’re happening. It’s not always just about asking the right questions, but acting on that information for the overall good of others.
“I realize that my role goes beyond the bedside. Real change happens when you bring awareness to the real problems in our society and abroad. We as nurses are the advocates for change to catalyze a movement that promotes the health and wellbeing of all individuals around the world. My experiences in Cambodia have shaped the way I view myself as a nurse, and the way I view the role nurses play in society. Those experiences will hopefully help me make impactful differences in health care in the future.”