Yale Bulletin
and Calendar

May 31-June 21, 1999Volume 27, Number 33

New alumnae's nursing training
included health work overseas

Two new graduates of the School of Nursing whose final projects involved research abroad plan to devote their careers to work overseas.

The two -- Michelle David and Virginia Morrison -- were among the 80or so students who received master's, doctoral or post-master's degrees at the School of Nursing's Commencement on May 24.

Both women say they were drawn to the nursing profession in part by the opportunities that it offers to work in the developing world.

For Michelle Davis, that interest began in high school, when she saw a magazine picture of rows upon rows of cribs in a Thai orphanage. "I thought, 'I'd love to be able to work with those kids,'" remembers Davis, whose master's thesis was a developmental study of children in Romanian institutions.

Her work in Romania under a Downs Fellowship was somewhat of a culture shock for Davis. She visited five settings in the country, ranging from a traditional day care center to live-in institutions, or orphanages. Many children in the latter facilities had living parents who could not afford to take care of them.

In one understaffed orphanage, Davis saw cribs shaking violently as children thrashed about inside to relieve their own boredom. "Nobody held them," said Davis. "There was no eye contact. It was like nothing I've ever seen."

Davis found that developmental problems increased in the children as the amount of individual attention the children received decreased. She thinks the government would better serve children by giving direct aid to parents so they could raise their children at home. This approach would also decrease the numbers of children who grow up to become troubled adults, she says.

"The streets in Romania are filled with adolescents and adults with multiple psychiatric problems who have never attached to anyone, and are unemployed and begging," explains Davis. "They have children of their own and the cycle starts again."

Davis will next do clinical work in the United States, but will soon return to the field of international health. "That's where my heart is," she said, "health care in the developing world."

While Davis was collecting data in Romania, her classmate Virginia Morrison was working in a Cambodian refugee camp to research the contraceptive needs of women there.

Like Davis, Morrison encountered complex cultural issues in her research at a Cambodian refugee camp just over the Thai border. In her work, which was funded by the American Refugee Committee, Morrison examined the role of cultural factors in decisions about birth control. In the remote refugee camps, many of the men, for example, believe that their wives should not obtain birth control without first consulting them, and contraception was seen as unacceptable for unmarried women and for sex workers. Some of the people Morrison interviewed feared that contraception would encourage women to have more than one sexual partner.

Morrison said she is particularly sensitive about imposing her own values. "You're bringing in a lot of attitudes of your own into a population that's already in danger of losing its own culture," she noted.

Morrison will also work in the U.S. before returning to her work with refugees. "It's exhausting work," she says. "It's something that consumes your entire person, but it's really excellent work, too."

-- By Colleen Shaddox
School of Nursing


Yale celebrates 298th Commencement
Yale launching a more user-friendly home page on the World Wide Web
Anthony T. Kronman reappointed as Dean of Law School
Festival will bring world of art and ideas to city
Endowed Professorships
New Haven attorney Julie Carter joins Office of General Counsel
To eat well, relax at the table, advises master chef Pépin
Reunion programs will both educate and entertain returning alumni
Some Yale graduates dancing down a different path
Yale's new student-built solar car headed for Sunracye '99
New alumnae's nursing training included health work overseas
Harold Samuel dies; brought musicians' archives to Yale
Dining staff friendliness ranks high on survey
Prostate Cancer Awareness Stamp to be unveiled at campus event
Conference to explore the future of language
Dr. William F. Collins is recognized for lifetime contributions to neurosurgery

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