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Global Health Student Lia Mastrocola Recounts Dominican Republic Internship

Van Loan School at Endicott College's Lia Mastrocola recounts her trip to the Dominican Republic.
Endicott College alumna and Van Loan School at Endicott Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in global health student Lia Mastrocola gains invaluable experience in Dominican Republic.

Once Lia Mastrocola was introduced to global health during her junior year at Endicott College, she was hooked. And that led to an incredible opportunity while she was studying for her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in global health at Endicott’s Van Loan School.

Mastrocola, who graduated from Endicott in 2016 and is on track to complete her master’s degree in December, originally wanted to join the Air Force as a nurse. When she was placed on the waitlist, she decided to join the Van Loan School’s nursing program.

She now wants to join a disaster relief team in addition to her duties as a nurse on Massachusetts General Hospital’s burn and plastic surgery unit. She got a taste of that this summer when she participated in an internship trip to the Dominican Republic with her program director, Susan Calhoun, and Intercultural Nursing, Inc. (INI).

“We were there for about a week, and we set up clinics in different types of villages,” Mastrocola said. “It was basically just like a triage unit. People would line up every day, and we would assess any problems they came to us with.”

Van Loan School at Endicott College's Lia Mastrocola recounts her trip to the Dominican Republic.

Mastrocola recounted many of her experiences in a detailed blog, but one case stood out while she recounted her trip.

During her day of home visits with Calhoun, a University of Rhode Island nursing student named Rebecca, and Alejandro, a translator, Mastrocola came across a former police officer who had become a quadriplegic as the result of a gunshot wound.

The man, wearing layers of clothing, was sitting outside in 95-degree heat. His blood pressure was dangerously low, and it had been days since he had eaten or drunk anything.

The group called the clinic for more supplies, and they gave him water and nutrition supplements while waiting for the delivery. Once the supplies arrived, they administered an IV, and were able to bathe and change him. He looked and felt like a whole new man.

That experience helped put things in perspective for Mastrocola and reaffirmed her desire to work in global health.

“At first, I thought our efforts on his behalf would have little effect, but when we left, he was really a new person. I now know that this is what I want to do,” Mastrocola said. “I would rather work in a place where we can help people who seriously need it, because their resources are so limited.”

Calhoun saw firsthand what Mastrocola accomplished during the trip, and she was impressed by her skills and by the opportunities a global health degree can provide.

“All nursing is global,” Calhoun said. “In today’s health care environment, nurses encounter patients from a wide range of cultures and traditions. With a master’s in global health nursing, the nurse is prepared to assume leadership within these diverse health care communities. Lia is a wonderful example of a global health nurse. She is bright, caring, flexible, and eager to learn. Lia has been exemplary in her internship, providing care to the under-served in the rural areas in the Dominican Republic.”

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing, with programs in global health, family nurse practitionernurse educator, and nursing administration, available through the Van Loan School at Endicott College.