Chants Working Abroad
ABOVE: Vanessa graduated from CCU in 2013 with a biology degree.
Meet Vanessa Suggs
Vanessa Suggs, a Coastal alumna, has an interesting job. She works at Duke Regional Hospital as a registered nurse who is on travel assignment. This distinction allowed her to work in Honduras for five months in 2018. Vanessa recently explained to us what it was like to live in Central America and how nursing differed in Honduras from the United States.
Name: Vanessa Suggs
Degree(s): B.S. in Biology (2013), B.S. in Nursing (exp. 2019)
Occupation: Registered nurse currently on a travel assignment
Employer: Duke Regional Hospital
Previous Abroad Location: Honduras
How is working overseas different from working in the United States?: Nursing in Honduras is completely different than nursing in the United States. The biggest difference is the limited resources available at our hospital. Many premature babies died because we did not have neonatal ventilators or the proper medications. At our hospital, the operating room, pharmacy, and clinic rooms were the only places that had air conditioning (I did not have air conditioning on our nursing unit or in my apartment). Also, because we lived in the middle of a jungle, it took us 90 minutes to go to the grocery store. Because of this, we took coolers of frozen water bottles to keep our meats and other items cold during the commute back home.
In the United States, we have blood banks readily available with blood for whoever needs it. In Honduras, that was not the case. We were the walking blood bank. I gave blood twice to patients who needed A+ blood. It was amazing to see your blood leave your body and within minutes, being infused in someone else knowing you are helping to save their life.
How did Coastal prepare you for a career working internationally?: The first thing that comes to mind is a medical Spanish class I took in 2006. It set the foundation for the Spanish I would use daily with my patients in Honduras. Also, in 2015, I met a few students who were enrolled in Coastal's ESL program. I gave them rides to Walmart, church, the mall, etc. Most of the students I became friends with were from Latin countries, so I was able to learn more of their culture and practice Spanish with them, which helped prepare me for living in Honduras.
What has been your best moment living overseas? Living cross-culturally in Honduras was truly an amazing experience that has marked my life! The love and generosity from the people of Honduras has blessed me beyond measure. My BEST moments were being able to share Christ with my Honduran co-workers and patients, as well as prepare families to say goodbye to their loved ones with an eternal perspective. It was also a pretty cool experience living in the middle of a jungle. Every day I had Howler and white-faced Capuchin monkeys hanging in trees off my back porch. I had many adventures on my four-wheeler, driving through rivers, and visiting patients and co-workers in their homes. I hiked up our "hill" to see beautiful sunsets and ventured out to another village to go to a secluded waterfall.
What advice would you give to current Coastal students? My advice would be to take any opportunity you may have to study abroad or go on a mission trip. There is something special about living in another country and learning about the language, culture, rituals and practices. It enriches your life experience. The friendships gained in the process are such a true blessing that you will truly cherish.