Twyla McKinney, RN, BSN, earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Linfield College. Like many individuals, Twyla was looking to education to help her open doors so she could make an impact in this world. And Twyla certainly was able to make an impact.
It was a trip to Kenya for Twyla’s senior nursing project, where she conducted health outreach and studied barriers to HIV and AIDS education, where she was able to put her knowledge as a registered nurse to work, while working to complete her RN to BSN degree. Twyla’s experience for her senior project gave her new insight into how challenging it is to work to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa.
While in Kenya, in the Nyanza Province, where 34 percent of the population has HIV/AIDS, Twyla worked with her brother in an orphan-feeding center, which has an on-site AIDS ward. Twyla’s senior project goal was to study the barriers to education on HIV and AIDS that must be considered before planning more educational intervention for this part of the world. However, in a new culture, Twyla recognized the challenges, stating, “You cannot just hand somebody a flier on hand washing. Can they read? Can they read the language the flier is in? Do they have running water at home? Can they afford the alcohol-based hand sanitizer that we use? My reality is different, and I need to be open, neutral and curious.”
While the battle with HIV and AIDS in Africa is an on-going one, Twyla was able to gain many new insights from her experience, understanding that the struggles with healthcare in these parts of the world are not just about the access that is available, but the cultural differences and challenges as well. “I don’t think that I’ll ever view health care in the same way,” she said, reflecting on her trip of a lifetime. “You can’t provide health care without having an adequate understanding of cultural challenges.” She presented her findings to her professors and student peers, complete with a 27-slide presentation that detailed the HIV/AIDS prevention barriers she uncovered.
Twyla chose to pursue her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Linfield College for its emphasis on humanities. She graduated in May 2011 with her BSN degree. She also was awarded the college’s prestigious annual RN-BSN Senior Honors in Nursing excellence award.
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