My trip to Korea in June 2015

By Sr. Margaret Kollmer

I had the privilege of going back to the country I love again this year.

The occasion was the joint meetings of the International Council of Nurses Congress, the Korean Nurses Association Annual Meeting, and the Korean Association of Nurse Anesthetist Annual Meeting being held at the same time. The ICN attendees, all nurses, were from 139 countries around the world, and numbered over 17,000 members. If you remember, shortly before the meetings were to begin, South Korea had the occurrence of an incident of MERS infection, brought to Korea by a person from the Mid East. This caused, in the two weeks I was there, the quarantine of 7,000 people, and the deaths of 36 people out of the 186 who were stricken with the disease. For those of you who are unaware of this, MERS is a virus infection, caused by contact (not airborne), which does not respond to any known antibiotic treatment, and is quite serious. Luckily the measures taken to control this outbreak were efficient, and the disease was controlled.

The ICN had as its theme, ―Global Health, Global Nursing.‖ Dr. Margaret Chang, the National Director of the World Health Organization, gave the opening address. In it she commended Korea on its response to the crisis, which controlled the outbreak, preventing further spread of the disease throughout the country. She then went on to urge the nurses of all countries to become more involved and active in helping to write the laws regarding health affairs in their own countries. She said many countries are now beginning to organize health systems, and now is the time for the Nurses to take an active role in seeing that the laws are proper to meet the health needs of all peoples, especially the poor and those without a voice. It was most inspiring.

The Korean Nurse Anesthetists had one of the many booths at the ICN, which gave the history of our Association, as well as having two models to try different anesthesia technics- spinal/epidural anesthesia, as well as intubation. It was most impressive.

The other two meetings were held nearby and the Korean Nurses Association stressed the importance of working together.

The Korean Association of Nurse Anesthetists held an International seminar on the Nurse Anesthetist work globally. The opening address was given by Gye Seon Jeong, President of the KANA, currently professor at Chungnam University, Kwangju,Korea. I was asked to give the first lecture on the history of the Korean Association of Nurse Anesthetists, which I began so many years ago. The speakers were all CRNA‗s: Pascal Rod, of France; KimTae Min of Halla University, Korea; Hae Sang Yeun of Inchon, Korea; Jackie Rowles of Indiana now President of the IFNA (International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists): Yun Suk Jeon from Helsinki, Finland; and MiChong Rayborn from the US, all speaking on issues relevant to the NA around the world.

Needless to say, it was an eventful time, each day bringing new friends, meeting old acquaintances, and seeing the changes in Korean Nurse Anesthesia History which are relevant, challenging, and still a work in progress. I was most delighted to have been there, and the biggest gift was that I did not forget any of my Korean Language skills despite an absence of nearly three years from Korea. It was difficult to say goodbye…