Volunteer trip to help others like a breath of fresh air

Respiratory Therapy student takes her skills overseas

10/18/2022 10:52:07 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL — A recent trip to Antigua, Guatemala still has Kaely Marques walking on air.
Kaely Marques, a Respiratory Therapy student at CNA’s Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s, NL, was recently part of a volunteer project by Team Broken Earth in Guatemala, a charity that sends health care professionals to help those in need.

Marques is a Respiratory Therapy (RT) student at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s, NL. Set to graduate in June 2023, she was recently part of an overseas project by Team Broken Earth, a charity that sends health care professionals all over the world to help those in need.

This time, the team decided to bring a CNA student along and Marques was selected from her RT class to lend a helping hand. She joined Team Broken Earth just a month and a half before they were set to leave. 

“I was fortunate to be a part of the latest mission in Guatemala,” said Marques. “I spent the week in the operating room assisting a wonderful anesthesia team where I gained incredible hands-on experience as a student respiratory therapist.”

This voluntary trip was a life-changing experience for everyone involved, notes the second-year student.

“Throughout the week, over 100 surgeries were preformed which included cleft palate repair, general, orthopedic and women’s health surgeries,” she said. “The Lion’s Club was also another major part of the team. They ran a vision clinic and performed 560 eye exams and they were able to distribute glasses to those who needed them.”
Kaely Marques holding one of her littlest patients during a recent trip to Guatemala as part of her volunteer work with Team Broken Earth.

Originally from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Marques says volunteering and being part of this team have been amazing learning experiences.

I would recommend to anybody to volunteer their time with Team Broken Earth,” she said. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience that I will carry forward with me in my future career as a Respiratory Therapist.”

Since 2011, Team Broken Earth has sent doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals from around the world for week-long medical missions to provide health services. To date, the organization has treated more than 20,000 patients in Haiti, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Nepal and Nicaragua.

Returning to her roots
Marques says she has already accepted a full-time RT position in her hometown once she graduates from the program.

“My time at CNA has been a very positive experience,” she said, adding the program is perfect for anyone who enjoys hands-on learning. “It is a very welcoming environment that you often don’t get in bigger institutions. We have great instructors and good equipment to provide lots of hands-on learning. The small class size makes it easier for you to get to know everyone in your program and allows you to get more experience while in the lab.”
Kaely Marques, a Respiratory Therapy student at CNA’s Prince Philip Drive campus in St. John’s, NL works on a patient as part of her volunteer work with Team Broken Earth.

She says the field is constantly evolving and overall, it is challenging.

“The material is both didactically and clinically demanding, but it is also an extremely rewarding program. Respiratory therapists play a vital role in the health care system and have a scope that seems to always be expanding.”

She looks forward to putting those essential skills into practice when she moves back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay next June.

Marques says she would love to volunteer again.

“I currently do not have any more trips planned with team broken earth at this time since I am focusing on finishing my program right now, but I am looking forward to volunteering for more trips in the future once I am finished school,” she said.
For more information about the Respiratory Therapy program, visit www.cna.nl.ca.

Media contact:

Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic