3 November 2016

Sheridan CRNA Jobina Ruiz Featured on AANA Journal’s October Cover

Sheridan is proud that the cover of the AANA Journal’s October issue features a photo of Sheridan Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Jobina Ruiz setting up for an obstetric fistula repair surgery in Rwanda. Ruiz participated in a global anesthesia immersion experience in Rwanda with the International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD) at the beginning of this year, when she was a student registered nurse anesthetist at Northeastern University. The IOWD is a non-profit organization that, among other things, provides free treatment and care to Rwandan patients suffering from obstetric fistulae, gynecologic and pelvic floor disorders. Ruiz, who was invited to participate in the mission at the invitation of her instructor, made the trip at her own expense.

Her 16 days in Rwanda with the IOWD was a valuable and eye-opening experience. For the first few days, she worked with the gynecological surgical team on general anesthesia cases and had the opportunity to watch those patients over an extended period of time. For the rest of her stay, she worked primarily on less invasive fistula repair cases and cystoscopies under epidural and spinal anesthesia. 

Working with the IOWD volunteers and local clinicians in Rwanda was both challenging and exciting. It provided Ruiz with many new learning opportunities, for example, administering anesthesia drugs such as halothane and sodium thiopental that are no longer used in the United States. Language barriers sometimes made communication challenging, and learning about the cultural differences between Africa and the U.S. was fascinating but also could be frustrating, such as the local cultural bias against using extreme measures to save the lives of critically ill neonates. But Ruiz fell in love with Africa and the people she met there – especially the women whose pain she helped manage during obstetric fistula repair surgeries. 

 

Jobina Ruiz draws blood from a Rwandan woman’s anti cubical vein as an anesthesiologist places an epidural to administer a blood patch

Fistula, a hole in the wall between a woman’s bladder and vagina, is a terrible condition found in women who have experienced a prolonged and obstructed labor without medical assistance, or sometimes as a result of injury to the bladder during a difficult surgery. This hole causes constant urine leakage. If the rectal wall is also affected, the woman also has no control over her feces. Ruiz learned that Rwandan women with untreated obstetric fistula are ostracized by their husbands and shamed by society, becoming social outcasts.

These women were incredibly grateful for the help of the surgical team volunteers, looking at them with eyes filled with hope and saying in their native language, “You’re going to fix me!” Ruiz said she’s equally thankful for having had the opportunity to meet and help them. “I helped these women,” she explained, “but in return they taught and helped me so much more! I am a better person because of them and this experience, and I am extremely grateful I was able to go.” She also appreciates the experience of having to make do with very limited supplies, equipment and drugs: “It taught me what I’m capable of.” Ruiz, who is well traveled, said she is anxious to return to Rwanda, next time with her husband.

She joined Sheridan in early September, immediately after passing her CRNA exam, and works at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Prior to returning to school to earn her graduate degree and CRNA certification, she worked as a critical care registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and NYU Langone Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Midtown Surgery Center in Manhattan, New York.

She hit the ground running at Memorial Regional, becoming a preceptor for nursing students after just two weeks. Her favorite thing about being a Sheridan CRNA is the strong sense of community. “It’s like being welcomed into a family.”