Mission-Possible: Volunteering to Provide Medical Care for Dominicans in Need

January 5, 2022 | Aya in the Community , Clinician Stories

“I got into nursing because I thought it was a great way to have an impact on others,” explains Ryan, an Aya traveler, who specializes in behavioral health. “I enjoy being a travel nurse because I get to explore the country and the flexibility of taking time off in between contracts. It’s hard to imagine going back to full-time status once you’ve become a traveler. The lifestyle is just incredible, and you meet so many great people along the way. It’s certainly changed my life and what I value in my professional career.” Ryan has been part of the Aya family for more than half a decade. In that time, he’s worked in Indiana, Arizona, California, Hawaii and is currently on assignment in Washington. His goal is to eventually share time between traveling and working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner via telepsychiatry.

Travel Nurse Takeover (TNT)

Ryan originally started the Travel Nurse Takeover (TNT) group on Instagram because he wanted to build a community of healthcare providers that had similar passions for the traveling lifestyle. “I thought it would be really fun to see the world through the eyes of a traveling healthcare provider, both on and off contract. They could connect with others and share advice and insight into what they’ve learned while being a traveler. At the time, there wasn’t anything like that for our nursing community and doing ‘takeovers’ on social media was a new concept. Since starting the page, we’ve had over 200 takeovers from travelers exploring different parts of the world. We’ve had numerous stories of travelers sharing their journey and connecting in real life and others who’ve said the page has influenced them to become a traveling healthcare provider. It’s rewarding to provide a platform for travelers to share their adventures and experiences from all around the world that inspires others to do the same.”

The rise in popularity of the Instagram-based community led to the collaboration with The 4North Project. “The 4North Project is a nonprofit that solves humanitarian issues around the globe with a focus on travel and volunteering. They reached out to Travel Nurse Takeover because they wanted to collaborate on creating a medical clinic in the Dominican Republic. Over the summer, I invited the TNT community, and eight travel nurses came with me to scout and assess the needs of the area. We had such a good time exploring and meeting each other in real life for the first time. Most of us only knew each other from Instagram, so to connect in person and experience the culture of the Dominican Republic together was great.” That trip led to creating the first medical mission in December.

“Seventeen travel nurses from around the country volunteered and provided medical services in a small town in the Dominican Republic. We converted a school into a clinic and provided medical checkups, non-medical eye exams, medications and physical therapy. We serviced over 300 individuals over the course of two days. We thought it went really well given this was our first time providing medical services for the region. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for all the incredible traveling healthcare workers that came on the trip. To collaborate and provide medical services alongside an incredible group of traveling healthcare professionals has been one of the highlights of my traveling career.”

Matt Gewirtz, the co-founder of The 4North Project, has lived in the Dominican Republic the past three years. “To see the medical clinic unfold this past month was incredible. The energy that travel nurses and travel physical therapists have brought to our medical programs is nothing short of amazing. The locals have expressed so much gratitude towards the work we’re providing and are already asking what they can do to help at the next medical clinic. Thank you to all the travelers who came over the summer and this past week and everyone who has donated online. You are all family to me now.”

The group plans on returning to the Dominican Republic soon. “We’re super excited to see the direction this program is headed and already have our next medical trip planned in the spring. We hope to continue doing our part in providing an unforgettable experience that combines our love for travel and serving those in need while working alongside the best traveling healthcare providers across the country!”

To support Aya traveler, Ryan, and his fellow travel nurses’ efforts, Aya donated $1,000 to The 4North Project. The donation will provide medical supplies for their next medical mission.

For more information on The 4North Project, how to make a donation and details on getting involved, visit https://4north.org

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