Laura Hahn just returned from a 3 week trip to Peru.  She wasn’t sight-seeing.  Instead, she led a group of 20 nursing and pharmacy students into the jungle at the headwaters of the Amazon River to the city of Iquitos. 

They went to the remote city to provide medical care and health education to the impoverished residents of the area.

“That’s why I am resigning as director, so I can do more of this work,” Hahn said.  “I want to do more outreach and clinical practice.”

Since 1998, Hahn has served as the director of WSU’s Central Washington nursing program in Yakima.  The program is located on the campus of the Yakima Valley Community College. 

Hahn will remain on faculty to teach  and to continue these healthcare outreach student visits around the world.

“I am ready to give up budget meetings and other administrative duties.  My greatest love is patient care and interacting with people, so that is why I am making this change,” she explained.

She plans to lead the fourth annual visit to Peru next summer.  The visits are arranged through the People of Peru support program (Online @ http://www.peopleofperu.org/index.php?option=com_na_content&task=view&id=168).

Visits to impoverished areas in Peru and other nations have provided her students with a significant educational experience, she said.

“These experiences broaden our students’ horizons.  We spend lots of time teaching about nutrition and prevention, in addition to providing medical attention.  This gives our students an opportunity to understand international health issues and to work with a very different culture.”

In addition to continuing the Peru project, Hahn hopes to begin establishing a similar partnership project in Africa next year.

“This is exciting,” Hahn said. “This is why I got into nursing.”