The Benefits of Medical Mission Trips for Healthcare Professionals: Jean Nienhuis, Amoy, China, 1920-1952

Student Author(s)

Jillian Nichols

Faculty Mentor(s)

Drs. Jonathan Hagood and Barbara Vincensi, RN, FNP

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Medical missionary work presents health professionals with the harsh realities of ill- equipped hospitals, cultural and language barriers, and the emotional toll of being beyond the comforts of home. Despite these challenges, the inspiring accounts of Jean Nienhuis’s service as a missionary nurse in the early- twentieth- century China proves that these obstacles are worth overcoming. The purpose of this research study is to explore the effects of medical mission work on health professionals’ faith. The project is based on Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring. Watson believes that nurses provide a caring environment for patients when modern science has nothing else to offer. This qualitative, retrospective study examines Jean Nienhuis’s papers held at a historical archive in West Michigan in order to discover her personal experiences as a nurse missionary to China. Three grand themes emerged: God provides, God is faithful, and sowing the seed. By sowing her seed and giving herself to China, Jean experienced many challenges, but through these challenges, she experienced God’s faithfulness and provision. This, in turn, led to a deeper desire to provide a healing and caring environment for patients in China. Limitations of this project include a small sample size and the difference of long term mission work compared to short term. Implications for nursing consist of contributions to research on the history of medical missionaries as well as the understanding of the benefits of participation in medical missionary trips for healthcare professionals.

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