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Day in the Life from Paediatric Ward Nurse Cara Stafford

SummerRosenbalmSummerRosenbalm Medical Staffing ManagerPosts: 38 - Current Staff

Interested in serving as a Paediatric Ward Nurse with Mercy Ships? Check out this Q&A session with Paediatric Ward Nurse Cara Stafford, currently serving on board the Africa Mercy!

Cara is from the United States and has served on board the Africa Mercy since August 2019.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? 

A: A typical day on the ship can vary so much, especially depending on what shift you work. As a nurse on B Ward, I work a mixture of Day, Evening, and Night shifts, which are each between 8-9 hrs. Work can be busy, but it is also fun! The environment is so different to any type of hospital I’ve previously worked at. Our patients are grateful, happy, joyous for this opportunity to have their lives changed. There is also time for meals, “down time” to contact friends and family members, get in a workout, watch movies, or play games and have fellowship with other volunteers in Midships. 

Q: What is your favorite part of your role?

A: With my background in nursing being Pediatrics, I really love getting to work with all of the kids who are having surgery on the ship. These kids have had to endure hardships in life, and having a major surgery with a long healing time can be so difficult, but seeing the smiles return to their faces and hearing their laughter brings me so much joy!

Q: Is there any part of your role that may be surprising for someone to learn? 

A: We start each new shift with a huddle time for the oncoming and leaving nurses and Day Crew with prayer and fellowship. We ask God to go before us in every task we do and every thought that we think so we can best care for our patients. Christ really is the center of our vision with Mercy Ships.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your role?

A: Occasionally, a patient’s recovery will not go as planned, no matter what we have prayed. This can be challenging to accept, but God is in control and He has a plan for each patient. We work our hardest to bring true hope and healing, not just physically. 

Q: What advice would you give someone considering volunteering as a Paediatric Ward Nurse? 

A: Do it! Coming to work on a ship in Africa, especially if you have never been on this continent before, can be so scary and nerve-racking. Leaving your “comfort zone” is never easy, but oh the benefits you can reap! I can say first hand how truly life-changing it is. I have a reinvigorated sense of why God called me into the medical field. 

Q: What do you wish you had known before arriving on the ship? 

A:How quick forming the relationships can be, with patients and caregivers, and with fellow volunteers and Day Crew. This community truly is loving and accepting of everyone. Come with an open heart, and it will get filled here! 

Q: Have you learned anything new in this role that will benefit you in the future? 

A: I have learned many things about the surgical specialties that my Ward gets to care for. New techniques and procedures, different ways of doing things that serve this specific population better, how we can benefit them the most in a country where they might not have access to medical care for follow-up once we leave.  

Q: Every role plays an important function. How do you see your role supporting our overall mission? 

A: I honestly feel like a small piece of the giant puzzle that is Mercy Ships, but in a humbling way. My role here is very important, but we need all the volunteers in every role to be able to live and work on a hospital ship housing volunteers from all over the world. I feel very blessed to be able to work with the patients first hand, and play a significant part of their personal journey. I will specifically remember these patients forever. How special that is! 


Have any questions about this role? Post them below!

Summer Rosenbalm

Medical Staffing Manager

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