Friday, May 10, 2013

International Nurses Day!

The Nursing Bridge Program asked Maryanne and I to write an article on what International Nursing Day means to us. Below is what we came up with. Enjoy!...

Every year on nurses day, we as nurses, take time to reflect on how proud we are to have chosen the nursing field. We reflect on the incredible importance nursing is as a profession. In the United States, nursing routinely tops the Gallop poll of "Most Trusted Profession" with 85% of Americans rating the ethical and honesty standards of a nurses at "very high/ high". These standards continue to amaze us. It's such a unique profession with so many different roles which has a universal acknowledgement for being so "noble."
We have spent countless hours listening to our friends and pondering their stories of nursing across the spectrum. We heard the stories of a neonatal ICU nurse after she described the experiences of helping a mother rock her dying baby for the last time. We have beamed with pride as a friend told us the signs and symptoms she recognized when her patient was having a heart attack, and assisted in getting him immediate and lifesaving treatment. It's not an uncommon site to see a coworker braid a patients hair and massage her hands through a chemotherapy infusion despite her heavy workload because she wanted to calm the patent's nerves. And most recently, we fought back tears as we walked around a crowded unit at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and witnessed the nurses comfort the victims from the recent factory collapse in Savar.
 Nursing continues to be a profession that while growing and changing, remains to be a necessity for improved outcomes in patient safety. We were chosen by Massachusetts General Hospital through a Global Health Care fellowship to promote, encourage and educate nursing with the eventual goal of opening a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. While coming here with the primary goal of teaching, we find ourselves learning from the nurses just as much as we hope they learn from us.

At a recent class at Dhaka Medical College we asked the nurses what drew them into the nursing profession. Each and every single nurse told us through their native language, "I chose to be a nurse because it is the work of the heart". Fortunately, it was a sentence we could understand without the use of an interpreter.

That evening while discussing our newest lesson plans, we discussed how well we were adapting to our roles in Bangladesh. We may have been brought into Dhaka through the nursing AK Khan Healthcare Trust to assist in advancing the nursing medical expertise and instructing clinical skill set, but every student in our classroom already had the nursing "heart", which is the only requirement of the profession that cannot be taught

Friday, May 3, 2013


As many of you may already know, last night I had the pleasure of being interviewed by CNN’s Moni Basu. This was an incredible honor, not only because Moni is an astonishing writer (no seriously, check out her personal  blog -, her stories are unlike anything I’ve ever read), but she made me feel incredibly safe and comfortable during the interview AND grew up in India but is Bangladeshi by birth!!! How cool?

While I initially submitted the story from my blog (errr….or was forced by Riley Fadden), my hope was that I could have a few Americans wake up to the horrors in South East Asia. Horrors, that I, myself had not known existed until I moved to Dhaka. I would never have imagined that the story would become a cover feature on CNN, although to be honest, I would still have preferred to live in a world where no such story existed. 

Someone said to me when I was trying to process explaining the scene of meeting the victims “Laura, you can’t save this, stop stressing yourself out”. I know that, but I am glad the majority of people were on my side saying “You might not be able to save it, but you don’t have to stop trying to get people to listen”. I am an incredibly lucky girl to have these cheerleaders just a skype, imessage, whatsapp and face time away.

The article may have made me look like a hero, but the real credit goes to the masterminds that took an improbable idea, and have us here, working to turn the dream into the reality of Bangladesh’s first Bone Marrow Transplant Center:

Dr. Bimal Dey, who was born in Bangladesh and is now an incredible Oncologist and asset to MGH. Being one of the most intelligent MD’s I have encountered he is also the most down to earth, has an INCREDIBLE respect for nursing, and is always just a phone call away when we need him.

Anne-Marie Barron who was my favorite professor at Simmons College and who has been my biggest mentor at MGH. She is an incredible, kind and intelligent person who has spent much time in Bangladesh to open a nursing school and help promote nursing. She is also an incredibly calming presence, even just on skype.

The AK Khan Trust and family, the Nursing Bridge Program, the honorable Health Minister of Bangladesh, The oncologist/hematologist at DMC ( especially Dr. Khan), and supports back at Massachusetts General Hospital including Jason Harlow and Mark Breznia, NP who have all  supported us so much, continue to listen to our thoughts and are working tirelessly to see the first BMT center through.  A thousand thanks to you all.

Maryanne Meadows, my partner in crime and savior in this new and different  world. We made a pact to laugh at the end of the day and she has made me keep that promise even on the hardest of days here. Her incredible blog gives much more insight to our journey, check it out-
And most importantly, to the Nurses and people of Bangladesh,  I hope the world never forgets about your incredible resilience in the face of a  tragedy that is so horrific, I continue to be at a loss of words. You will forever be tattooed on my heart and I promise to never stop telling your story to anyone who will listen.