International Nurses Day Series: Meet Sue Prueitt

Nurses are the heart of healthcare. They recognise the connection between social conditions and individual health. They know that to provide the best quality care, they need to look at the bigger picture. And they provide empathy and compassion when people are at their most vulnerable.

On this International Nurses Day, we introduce you to some of the nurses we have the privilege of working with across the world. Read their stories and find out the many ways they are touching the lives and hearts of people in need.

Meet Sue Prueitt

Sue is a Seattle-based nurse who has played a large role in developing programmes at Kiwoko Hospital as a passionate member of our International Medical (IMED) team.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a nurse. I’m not really sure why….nobody in my family was in any way involved in the medical field. I always loved children and in my generation if you wanted to work with kids, you either became a teacher or a nurse. I had a special love of babies, so I decided to go for nursing. I have never regretted that choice, not ever!

My first job was working in a maternity unit in Bellingham, Washington. It was a small hospital, so we worked in all 3 areas; nursery, labour and delivery and postpartum. I spent 2 years there before moving to Seattle and starting a new job in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

It is challenging being a NICU nurse. Your patients can’t tell you if they are uncomfortable and in pain. Their parents are frightened and have been introduced into a world they have never imagined. This is a challenge, but also is so rewarding. As a NICU nurse you are truly your patients and families advocate. You may be the first person to introduce a new baby to their parents. This is a privilege that can have a profound impact. You become a parent’s lifeline and they will grow to depend on you in many ways. Their world is small in the NICU. Many of their friends and family have no idea what they are experiencing.

I was introduced to Adara many years ago by my co-worker, Debbie Lester. I heard all the stories from her and I was fascinated by this mission she described. I always had dreamt of going, but was frightened of the unknown and I had never travelled to any low resource countries. But the opportunity came for me to go and I just couldn’t pass! Well, after about 2 minutes, I fell in love with Kiwoko and, after 2 weeks, I felt the same about Adara! I came home and retired from my job at Seattle Children’s and have returned to Kiwoko five more times and have been working on projects at home in Seattle in between my visits. I feel so lucky to have taken the ‘late in life’ leap to the non-profit world.

Working in the Kiwoko nursery’s been an amazing experience. The lack of all the monitors that are used in the US forces the nurse to use their eyes and ears in caring for a patient. It reminded me of the way it was when I started as a nurse. I am impressed every visit there by the dedication and the thirst for knowledge the nurses have.

I think the bubble CPAP project has been one that I am proud to be a part of. It is still ongoing, but it will be life changing for NICU’s in low resources settings around the world. The manual will help to instruct and ensure that the proper technique is being used. Teaching is also a rewarding part of my work in Kiwoko. It is so rewarding to teach NRP (neonatal resuscitation) to nurses who work so hard and then watch them perform it perfectly in a real situation. The nursing and medical staff are so eager to learn. They are so smart and dedicated.

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