It’s no surprise that nursing and health sciences students are drawn to community service. After all, they have chosen to pursue careers based on helping others and making the world a better place. This spotlight series shows how some of our students share their time and talents to solve problems, improve lives and strengthen communities.

Maeve Higgins, Nursing ‘20

During winter break, Maeve traveled to Siem Reap Cambodia with her father, Dr. Tim Higgins, who volunteered his time as a pediatric radiologist at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap province. As an NGO, the hospital provides free healthcare to all children who walk through their gates, typically serving up to 500 children each day.

Maeve shadowed nurses in the outpatient department and observed triage nurses interviewing and assessing patients. She also observed ultrasound and x-ray imaging and attended talks on Cambodia’s unique health problems and the importance of nutrition in patient care.

“This experience served as incredible foreshadowing and exposure to much of what I have started to learn in my courses this semester,” Maeve said.  “It was incredible to see concepts I have begun to discuss and learn in action.”

She witnessed the challenges of caring for patients who lack understanding of how lifestyles and social determinants affect health.

“I think that the biggest thing I learned or realized was that there is more to combat than just poverty when providing healthcare to underserved communities. Yes, poverty likely means poor sanitation, malnutrition and decreased access to care, but there are also serious obstacles to consider such as low health literacy, which exacerbates conditions implicated by poverty and brings about new problems like antibiotic resistance, distrust and stigma,” she said.

“Moving forward in my nursing education, I will carry these experiences and observations. This trip solidified an interest I already had in public health and enlightened me to the educational and cultural challenges in providing care.”


Janet Lynn Essman Franz
Maeve visited Ta Promh, a 12th-century temple in Cambodia.