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Orthopedic Care in Developing Countries

Jessie Holt

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing



The St Marys Hospital chapter of the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses

(NAON) met with the purpose of discussing Orthopedic Care in developing countries. The

meeting was led by Dr. McGlynn, and specifically detailed his numerous medical mission trips

to Haiti. The objectives of the professional meeting included describing three common

orthopedic issues and their treatment options, as well as discussing the challenges of performing

surgery in developing countries such as Haiti.

This professional meeting highlighted the importance of service, humility, inequality, and

technology in serving the sick in a foreign country. Dr. McGlynn spoke of his medical

experiences in Haiti throughout the years, and made special note of how impactful the January

2010 earthquake was to the thriving of the country. Not only was inequality widespread in Haiti,

but the presence of chronic poverty was also unending. However, Dr. McGlynn and his team

consistently saw the faith and importance of Christianity throughout the nation, and at times even

with a touch of voodoo culture. The people of Haiti also have a strong love thy neighbor

mentality and are very based in their community. Dr. McGlynns presentation showed the most

common orthopedic conditions, namely clubbed feet and crooked legs due to Vitamin D

deficiencies. Another condition he saw frequently was the need for heel cord lengthening. Dr.

McGlynn also commented on how he saw some of the most original medical stories in Haiti,

citing a case of a teenager with Tuberculosis in his spine, or Potts Disease, as one of the most

rare medical cases he had ever seen.

Application of Course Material

Each medical mission trip to Haiti encompassed an organizational structure that Dr.

McGlynn formally said was critical for success in a foreign country with such limited resources.

Initially, an organizational process was vital for communication and coordination in bringing

medical care to Haiti. Each medical trip to Haiti had the common mission bringing as much aid

as possible, with the vision of fixing as many orthopedic issues as possible. Each mission trip

included several aspects of organizational effectiveness, including the leadership of the doctors

and translators as well as the rest of the medical team members. According to Marquis and

Huston (2015), organizational structure should enhance communication as well as facilitate

decision making that results in the greatest work performance. In the Haitian hospital operating

room there was a chain of command including delegation from the surgeon to the

anesthesiologist to the scrub nurses to the translators, all with the common goal of helping the

patient in some sort of medical capacity. Each member of the team knew their role the in the

structure of decision-making and the work process in its entirety. Dr. McGlynn also noted how

one of the hospitals they worked in was abandoned by all of their governance, as the Earthquake

in 2010 claimed around 250,000 lives and many residents fled from the area.

Dr. McGlynn and his team brought the best standards of care possible to Haiti on each

mission trip. The team tried their best to maintain aseptic technique, and the nursing staff abided

by the standards of nursing practice. The very nature of each one of Dr. McGlynns clinics in

Haiti was the very vision of advocacy. Nursing values central to advocacy include those that

emphasize caring, respect, autonomy, and empowerment (Marquis & Huston, 2015). The team

members abided by each patients individual needs and provided the greatest height of care

possible. Both the individual and interpersonal levels of advocacy were also shown. On the

individual level, the medical team informed patients through the use of medical translators. On

the interpersonal level, patients were supported and empowered through further translating on

self-care after surgery as well as important signs and symptoms to look out for.

Dr. McGlynn and his medical teams truly did promote factors that created a culture of

quality, safety, and caring. The medical team brought the highest quality care possible under the

circumstances they were given in Haiti. Ultimately, they were very lucky to have power long

enough or even consistently enough to perform any procedures requiring general anesthesia. The

medical care given also highlighted another element of quality healthcare: most all of Dr.

McGlynns patients improved or their risks were greatly minimized by the care received.

Application to the Profession of Nursing

The professional nurse meeting attended on orthopedic care in developing countries had a

wide range of informative value to the NAON as well as to the profession of nursing in general.

The presentation by Dr. McGlynn on his experiences with orthopedic care in Haiti showed the

very heart of servant leadership as well as many core values of the nursing profession. Servant

leadership is the fundamental desire to serve others that leads one to assume a leadership role. A

servant leaders highest goal is to meet the priority needs of those served (Neill & Saunders,

2008). Not only did Dr. McGlynn travel to Haiti to provide much needed medical care, he also

traveled to Haiti to screen for future needs, solely for the purpose of providing the community

with the best possible medical care. His interaction with the St. Marys chapter of NAON

prompted several nurses to reach out and question him about future mission trips to Haiti. These

connections illustrate a large value to the profession of nursing by recruiting caring nurses to

volunteer their time and skills to the betterment of a foreign country.

According to the National League for Nursing (NLN), the core values of nursing include

caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence (2016). Caring is defined as the promotion of health,

hope, and healing in the response to the human condition (NLN, 2016). The NLN recognizes

integrity as respecting the entirety of each patient without reservation, and diversity as affirming

the uniqueness as well as differences among people including their values, ideas, and ethnicities

(2016). Lastly, excellence is defined as the daring implementation of transformative strategies

(NLN, 2016). Each member of the nursing and surgical teams promoted health in their medical

procedures while respecting the dignity of each patient, and ensured direct communication

regarding procedures by using a translator enrolled in medical or nursing school. Dr. McGlynn

and his teams were able to take their years of experience and bring countless strategies into a

nation in need of immense medical care.


I thought that the involvement of the orthopedic staff at St Marys was very strong. I

actually work on the orthopedic unit and saw many of my unit nurses as well as others from

additional floors. After the meeting, several nurses approached Dr. McGlynn to talk about his

future trips to Haiti. One of the nurses actually worked at Memorial Regional Medical Center

(MRMC), and mentioned that she saw the flyer on her floor and absolutely wanted to attend the

meeting. I thought her presence was a wonderful exhibit of the caring community that Bon

Secours is, and goes to show how many nurses benefitted from this professional meetings

message. My professional nursing goal has always been to travel and practice internationally,

and this meeting only strengthened my mindset. Last summer I was invited to travel on a nursing

mission trip to Haiti for a week with Professor Faw, and I loved every minute of it. I also loved

being able to compare the two experiences while hearing about Dr. McGlynns team, location,

experience, and their amenities. Having as many as two options for a medical or nursing

outreach trip to Haiti in the same healthcare community is amazing, and goes to show how many

opportunities Bon Secours has to offer its own community as well as the international



National League for Nursing. (2016). Retrieved November 15, 2016 from

Neill, M. W. & Saunders, N. S. (2008). Servant leadership: enhancing quality of care and staff

satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Administration, 38(9), 395- 400.

Marquis, B.L. & Huston, C.J. (2015). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing:

Theory and application (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.