After beginning my second career as an RN, at 40-years-old, I enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program at UWB. The 2014 UWB study abroad in Togo, West Africa ignited my passion for international medical brigades. Dr. Mabel Ezeonwu led my first experience providing medical care outside of the United States and continues to be a mentor and friend. Providing healthcare to the Togolese allowed me to connect more intimately with people than in previous international travels. Togo inspired and energized me like never before. I got goose bumps as villagers welcomed us with drum music and dancing as our bus rolled up. Their generosity and gratitude still brings tears to my eyes.
I was exhilarated being part of a small diverse group. We had a short timeframe to accomplish an important goal. Included in our team were Health Studies students, MSN students, BSN students, Dr. Ezeonwu, physicians, interpreters, audiologist (who gave out hearing aids) and our logistics team. I remember each of them with great affection and respect.
Since Togo, I’ve participated in four more international medical brigades with Timmy Global Health. I’ve worked in the Amazon Basin and Santo Domingo, Ecuador, in Las Canas and Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. During my most recent medical brigade this August I worked with 18 undergraduates (from Southern Illinois University and Wayne State University), 4 physicians, an RN, interpreters and our trip coordinators (a typical Timmy Global Health team, although we’d prefer to also have a pharmacist) to provide healthcare to Haitian and Dominican banana plantation workers and their families. We treated everything from diabetes and hypertension to parasites and malnutrition. During five clinic days we saw 556 patients (from two-weeks-old to 92-years-old) and referred 59 patients to hospitals. The undergraduates had fundraised several thousand dollars to offset the hospital care of the patients we referred.
For anyone interested in International Medical trips I recommend connecting with an organization employing a sustainable model. Many NGOs and charities, who have good intentions, end up wasting resources, and even do harm, a topic of my UWB class with Dr. Ezeonwu. For me, I’ve found Timmy Global Health who, once they partner with a community, sends a medical team every 2-3 months. They also employ in-country staff. With Timmy I have traveled with students majoring in Pre-Med, Nursing, Public Health, Interior Design, African Studies and others. Often these trips are the first time students have been outside of the US. My hope is that during my trips I will help inspire the next generation, as Dr. Ezeonwu and UWB inspired me to be a better global citizen.
I plan to travel to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for my next brigade. I have been there before as a tourist and hope that this time I will be allowed to connect to the citizens as a care provider. Also, I’ve become friends with a physician from that city through a previous brigade. Yet another great thing about international medical brigades is the people I’ve met who are doing such important work in the world. Every single trip has inspired me to come home and make positive changes in my life and in the nursing care I give in the US.
Bradley Budrow, RN (UWB BSN ’14) currently works in a PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit where he bikes to work every workday, year-round. He shares his days with his supportive wife of 22 years, a sweet mutt and reformed alley cat.
UWB video about Togo trip.
Timmy Global Health.
Top and Middle: Timmy Global Health international brigade, Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, August 2019. I’m the one in the UW hat and scrubs.
Bottom: UWB team in Togo. I’m wearing orange shoes and sitting in the front. Dr. Mabel Ezeonwu is standing on the back left. August 2014