Raychel Wertz

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Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Johnstown

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International Experience Summary:

Raychel spent 5 weeks in the Himalayan mountains of Northern India at the Woodstock School and Hanifl Center studying the culture, life, and customs of the Himalayas and their people. She also became a certified Wilderness First Responder after many long hours of studying and practicing in realistic scenarios, as well as two extended mountain rescue scenarios. She spent her time hiking through the Himalayan mountains, as well as her first ever camping experience on a 3-day trek where she hiked to the top of a mountain. Raychel experienced many new foods, animals, and people in her time in Uttarakhand. She was able to learn about the area by spending a clinical day in the local hospital, where she saw the differences between American and Indian healthcare. As a nursing student, she spends time in different American hospitals, but this experience opened her eyes to the health disparity in India, as well as the difference between the patient-provider relationship in the two countries. She also was taught about the different government policies that allowed for the low-cost healthcare that hospitals in India provide, which in turn attracts many people from different countries and increases the income from medical tourism. Raychel was also lucky to get to spend a day at a clinic and help give over 80 local villagers a check-up and the medicine they needed. In her free time, Raychel would walk into the nearby town and experience the everyday life of many people; she met children in school, talked to shopkeepers, and was able to purchase many beautiful hand-made items. While trying to maintain her own mental health and wellness while away from family and friends, Raychel learned from instructors and locals about the treatment of patients with mental health issues in India. She learned about the stigma against those with mental health issues and the lack of access to proper mental health management due to that stigma. She learned that while there is a disparity between American and Indian healthcare, the trend is improving and that there will soon be change for the better. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Sustainable is Attainable