Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Common Ground - A Nurse's Experience

Do you know about all the American boys  in Kosovo? They were there to protect the peace. They were everywhere! And not just Americans – Peacekeeping Forces from all over the world including Russia, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden and America were stationed in Kosovo. I was there too, celebrating the millennium summer, working as a nurse practitioner in the war recovery effort. I was privileged to be working in a Maternal Child Health Program in Gjilane, Kosovo.....
One afternoon on the way to my café, I passed a parked Hummer on the corner. In the portal cut from the roof of the Hummer stood two young soldiers facing in opposite directions so they could view the street in both directions.  Each held a machine gun. As I neared the corner I caught the eye of the young man that faced me, with his gun pointing toward my heart. He was a tall boy, about 18 years old, with solemn brown eyes and dark skin. He looked straight ahead with a stern and serious expression on his face.

I wondered how these young men feel about the big responsibility they had been given. They were all very young men, boys really, in their late teens or early twenties. Living so far away from home and not being allowed by the military to socialize among the local people, they must surely feel lonely.

As I caught the young man's eye, I stop walking and smiled at him. His expression remained unchanged, still, stern, serious and grim.  Then I pointed to myself and silently spelled out a single word  A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N, smiled and then  gave a little wave. His serious posture shifted. A wide grin spread over his face as he gave a small nod in my direction. We had connected. Although far, far away from the “land of the free and the home of the brave, we were on common ground.

By Nancy Leigh Harless, BSN, WCHNP and Director Communications for One Nurse At A Time worked with International Medical Corp in the post-Balkan War recovery effort in Gjalen, Kosovo during the summer of 2000. Read the entire article at:

Friday, June 24, 2011

IN MEMORY: Jo Schuyler an Ardent Supportor and Longtime Friend

Marilyn Jo Schuyler loved life, her husband, friends, hard work and golf.  Our lives joined 25 years ago, and we were closer than sisters.  Since the first ideas of One Nurse At A Time began to formulate, Jo was an ardent supporter.  As I expounded on my ideas to change the world by helping nurses volunteer, she would listen, encourage and counsel.  Jo and her husband David financially supported our cause, and last year arranged for One Nurse to be the holiday charity for her Inglewood Women's Golf Club.  I think Jo bought and gave away more Nurses Beyond Borders books than even we contributers!   She was so proud of our work.

Jo grew up in small town South Dakota, and moved to San Francisco with her high school sweetheart and daughter in the height of Peace and Love of the 60's and 70's.  Besides being a teacher and accomplished musician, she volunteered much of her time with housing and social issues so important at the time.  Moving to Seattle she became a CPA and eventually my roommate.  My husband and I introduced her to David Schuyler.  Immediately, they knew they'd met the love of their lives,married and spent the past 21 years together.  Our families joined -my mother was Jo's matron of honor at her wedding.  Our siblings,children and parents all came together for holiday celebrations.

Once she retired, she and David became golfaholics. Even as she battled cancer - first breast, then colon, then lung - she would have chemo treatments one week and golf the next.  The clubhouse was her church and the members were her extended family.  Her greatest trophy was "Most Improved" in her first year of playing.

Jo left us on June 2 of this year, her beloveds in attendance. None of us know how we will adjust to a future without her. But we will set a place for her this Thanksgiving, toast her spirit and give
thanks to her for bringing us together.

She asked that memorial donations be given to One Nurse At A Time - nurse scholarships will be given in her name to further the work she so ardently supported.

Sue Averill, President One Nurse AT A Time

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. ~Pericles

Remembrances in Jo's honor can be sent to to One Nurse at a Time, 7747 38th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Small Scheme of Life

As a nurse you can end up taking care of anybody. After a prison riot you stitch up the eyebrows of guards and the ears of convicted bank robbers. You give bed baths to senators and kneel to cut the toenails of rapists. And if you really believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, you may end up taking care of both the victims and perpetrators of war.
In 1994, I was working as a public health nurse in a refugee camp for Rwandan refugees, which served the Hutus who had crossed into the eastern Congo and killed about 800,000 of their fellow Tutsi countrymen. At the time it was assumed that perhaps 20,000 Hutu had participated in the genocide, and these were included among the million Hutu refugees. No one really knew. I was there working during the shigellosis, cholera, and meningitis epidemics that were exacting a certain revenge on the Hutus. The first day, I counted 2,000 dead bodies.
            This refugee camp, Mugunga, crowded people onto a site on the aptly named Mountains of the Moon as tightly as if all of Seattle had moved their families into plastic pup tents on a few vacant city blocks.
The world here was tilted. Steep slopes bearing banana and papaya trees fell from smoking volcanoes into a huge lake that weeks earlier had been clotted with bodies, and weeks before that had been a water-skiing resort. The first bodies in the waters were Tutsis who had floated from Rwanda after the genocide. Then those disappeared and were replaced by other bodies, Hutus and Congolese who had been stricken by shigella and cholera. Everyone—refugees, genocidists, foreign workers, U.N. forces, and the evil Zairian military in their jaunty red berets—shared, if nothing else, an unsettling concern about the disturbingly active volcano. We all cast an occasional eye on its red glow and ensuing plumes.
We had divided the estimated 300,000 persons in this camp into sections of about 100 households. In my job as the public health coordinator, I walked through each of my sections to check in with my Rwandan staff about the birth and death tolls that we used to see whether the situation was improving or worsening.
To get to Section B, I walked through the narrow spaces that separated the blue plastic sheets that formed shelters. The refugees called these sheetings, which the French aid workers unfailingly corrected to plastiques—as if corruption of the French language were the issue here most at stake.
 I walked between the sheetings and over to Beane, the head worker in Section B. He handed me his tally paper, on which he tracked the day’s events of the 100 families in his section. On the paper were marked the causes of the four deaths: diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, watery diarrhea, and in slanted letters, Tutsi.
“Tutsi?” I asked. He took me over to the exposed body of a woman. Usually families or even strangers wrapped bodies in reed mats or in blankets and laid them out on the side of the road for the cemetery workers to pick up in the daily truck run. Usually only feet stuck out the end. The woman was lying with her arms and legs splayed in an X. Around her was the only open space in the entire camp. It looked as though someone had cut her under her arms with a machete and then pulled until her shoulders had dislocated and she bled out. It was a tilted place... (Excerpt taken from "In the small Scheme of Life,"by Mary Catlin, MPH, BSN. Read her entire compelling story in the book, NURSE BEYOND BORDERS.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In Israel, a young nurse arrives seeking fun, romance, and danger-and leaves with the knowledge that we must care for our enemies as well as our friends.   Struggling to save a once-healthy child, a veteran nurse working in Liberia fights language barriers and a lack of supplies.   As she assists in an emergency C-section in the jungles of Guatemala, a nurse witnesses both unbearable pain and true joy, all in the space of 24 hours.   A nurse suffering from her own losses creates order from chaos in a crowded Chinese orphanage-and learns about fate, faith, and hope.   Every year, thousands of nurses travel abroad, hoping to ease suffering, save lives, and make a difference in countries other than their own. Each one has a story to tell.   Award-winning author and travel nurse Nancy Leigh Harless shares a fascinating collection of true stories from dedicated nurses. In this inspiring anthology, they share their experiences working in Honduras, Laos, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Mexico, Cambodia, and beyond, where the languages, procedures, equipment, and even the doctors may be incredibly different from their home countries-but where the ultimate goal of providing excellent care and utmost compassion remains the same.

A limited number of print copies of this book are available through ONE NURSE AT A TIME.  $15/copy plus shipping. Email suen@onenurseatatime to place your order today!  All proceeds go toward scholarships for nurses who volunteer abroad.  One nurse at a time you can help us change the world!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Scholarship Nurses Embark on Their Journeys

Every year, thousands of people travel abroad, hoping to ease suffering, save lives and make a difference in countries other than their own. Each has a story to tell. Each one has learned more than he or she ever could have imagined about other cultures -- and about themselves.  This week One Nurse At A Time has  THREE scholarships nurses heading out on medical missions. They are special nurses who are about to embark on a great adventure.  Laura Brown is returning to Haiti; Lauren Johnson will be working in Honduras; and Susannah Watts will be providing anesthesia in Niger. One nurse at a time these women are making a difference! Please hold them in your thoughts and prayers and join me in wishing them a safe journey.                               

The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others." ~ DeAnn Hollis

ONE NURSE AT A TIME ia  a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization created by nurses who are passionate about giving back to our local and global community through volunteer and humanitarian medical pursuits. We are dedicated to assisting other nurses enhance our profession as they too, look for opportunities to serve locally, nationally and internationally. HAve YOU ever wanted to volunteer  your nursing skills to those in need, but are unsure of how to get started? We are here to help make the process easier.  check out our website:    and then email your questions.  Remember:  the life you change may be your own!

“The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are.”  ~ Johnnetta B. Cole
What can One Nurse At A Time offer you?
DIRECTORY of organizations offering volunteer opportunities for nurses.
SCHOLARSHIPS to nurses to help offset the cost of trips.
COMMUNITY networking opportunities through highlighting speaking engagements, public events, publication of articles and a discussion forum for exchange of volunteer and humanitarian nursing experiences

And, coming soon: EDUCATION MODULES to prepare you for humanitarian nursing! 

"Individuality we are a drop; together we are an ocean." ~Ryunosuke Satoro

Friday, June 10, 2011


For Kristi Whiton, RN, BSN, nursing and the health care field has been an integral part of her life since childhood. Her earliest childhood memories revolve around watching both her grandmother and mother as nurses in their related fields. She started her nursing career shortly after graduating from high school. After enrolling in a CNA program she had a clear signal that pursuing her RN was in her near future.

Kristi attended Bellingham Technical College for her LPN and Skagit Valley College for her RN. She also obtained her Associates of Integrated Science degree at Cascadia Community College in Bothell.  Recently Kristi graduated from the University of Phoenix online program with her BSN and has now applied for the Masters of Nursing program at the University of Washington and hopes to eventually obtain her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Kristi has worked in several areas: clinics, nursing homes, medical surgical floors and emergency departments. She has been a charge nurse, an emergency department assistant manager, trauma program manager and educator in the ED. She is currently employed as a perdiem nurse in the ED and works part time at a local technical college as a part-time nursing instructor. She recently received two awards in 2011 from her current place of work: 2011 Distinguished Service Award for leadership and contribution to the Telestroke Program and 2011 Excellence in Leadership as a Manager Award.

Travel has been a big part of Kristi’s life, she has traveled to many countries throughout the world and hopes to take her family along with her in the future. She also is an avid hiker, skier and enjoys boating with her family.

Kristi is a member of Emergency Nurses Association and American Trauma Society.  This fall Kristi will be traveling with People to People Emergency and Trauma Nursing Delegation to China. Her volunteer work has been varied, she has volunteered through Kiwanis, Food Co-op's and at her local church. Her excitement about humanitarian work came shortly after her first meeting with Staci.

 After her brief introduction to Co-founder, Staci Kelley’s work at One Nurse at a Time, Kristi was hooked. She knew she wanted to be part of this movement towards getting other nurses involved in humanitarian nursing. Kristi is extremely excited to be part of One Nurse At A Time, and to service on the board. She is honored to be part of an organization dedicated to improving humanitarian nurses’ availability to helping people around the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delta Kappa Gamma Features "One Nurse At A Time" Speaker

One Nurse At A Time Director Communications, Nancy Leigh Harless will speak about humanitarian nursing at the Iowa State Teachers Conference on Saturday, June 11 and read from her latest book: Nurses Beyond Borders, an anthology written by nurses who have volunteered abroad. Books will be offered for sale following - $15/copy. All proceeds go toward nursing scholarships. Nancy speaks about how she became interested in humanitarian nursing several years ago.  In her own words:

In 1997 I was chosen to be part of a professional exchange program to Guatemala and Belize sponsored by The Rotary International. We arrived in Guatemala City only three months after the peace treaty was signed that ended a more than 30-year Civil War. It was a life-changing month of contrasts spent exploring other cultures from the inside. I waltzed at the Ambassador’s Ball among men wearing Armani suits and women dressed in sequins and satin, then visited a remote mountain village where barefoot women ground corn by hand as they prepared the daily meal of tortillas. I visited private clinics decorated more lavishly than anything I ever seen in the States; then visited a public hospital where trash lined the hallways, and the women crowded together two-to-a-bed after they delivered their babies.

I felt as though I’d been plucked from my safe American home, tumbled about in a whirlwind for a month, then set back down in the same small Midwestern spot where nothing had changed, but for me nothing would ever be the same again. A fire and a fury unleashed inside. I wanted to explore -- to see inside other cultures, understand their people, and make every place I visited better in some small way, particularly as it related to healthcare. I have been involved with volunteer nursing ever since and worked with medical missions in Belize, Guatemala, Kosovo and Mexico; as well as serving with the American Red Cross in Iowa.

I am proud to be part of an organization that provides support for nurses to give back to communities in distress both locally and globally. My hope is that through our support more nurses will make volunteerism an integral part of their lives at home; and that they will reach out to provide both the art and the science of nursing around the world.


Nancy Leigh Harless, RN, BSN, WCHNP worked with International Medical Corp in the post-Balkan War recovery effort in Gjalen, Kosovo and with Belize Family Life Association in southern Belize. She is also an award winning poet and writer. Her poems and stories have been included in many anthologies as well as many professional and literary journals. She is the author of  Womankind: Connection & Wisdom around the World, a collection of short stories gleaned from her international nursing experiences and travels. And Editor for the books To the Rescue (Kaplan, Sept, 2009) and  Nurses Beyond Border (Kaplan,Sept 2010). Nancy serves on the board for One Nurse At A Time.