A dedicated nurse has left Sheffield to spend 10 months on a hospital ship in Cameroon.
Thirty-five year old Julia Smith of Stannington took up a volunteer post on the charity-run ship, the Africa Mercy, in July and will return home in June next year.
Here, Julia is a staff nurse in the Interventional Vascular Radiology Suite at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. She was given full support by colleagues and management to her venture.
Julia raised funds to meet her living costs aboard the ship with support from friends, family and Christ Church at Fulwood.
It is her second stint with Mercy Ships as she joined the Africa Mercy in Togo in 2010. This time she will take on the job of Infection Prevention and Control Nurse. The relatively new role will require Julia’s experience in helping to develop it.
Julia said: “The working environment on board the ship is so different to that of Western nations that knowledge has to be adapted to fit the medical conditions there, which simply do not occur in developed nations.
“Every healthcare professional needs a huge amount of flexibility and to be able to think outside the box. Every field service is different and policies and protocols need constant adaptation in order to meet the needs of the patient population.”
She added: “As a home owner in Sheffield, I’ve often had lodgers, which has been good practice for living in close quarters with other people. You do need patience and tolerance, and to remember that you share your “home” with 400 other people. I felt truly called to return to Africa this year.”
The Africa Mercy comprises five operating theatres, a radiography suite, laboratory, ward with 82 beds and accommodation for the 400-strong volunteers.