In 1985, when Kristina Barkey was a senior nursing student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota she decided to take a one-month intensive nursing course named “Cross Cultural Nursing.”

She traveled to Quito, Ecuador with 10 nursing students and a professor who had practiced nursing in Ecuador for 13 years. This experience opened her eyes to international nursing and healthcare disparity and eventually women’s health.

After graduating, Kristina began her career at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Following 18 months on a medical surgical unit, she transferred to labor and delivery unit where she spent the next 30 years of her nursing profession.

Labor and delivery were very appealing to her, with the absolute joy of being at deliveries, gaining the OR/PACU skill set, addressing the challenges of high risk complications, and the rush of never knowing what would happen on any particular day.

She also raised a family, and when her kids were grown she began to step up her career. Having done childbirth education for several years in the 90’s and having led small groups for many years, she was drawn to education and to reigniting her earlier passion for international nursing opportunities.

She worked 3 years per diem in a same day surgery unit in addition to L&D to increase her skill set to be able to serve a broader patient population abroad.

When she was asked to travel with a medical mission team and work in Haiti in 2012, she jumped at the chance, and started reading books on the history of Haiti and the impact the earthquake in 2010 had on the country and healthcare practices.

She volunteered in the L&D unit, medical surgery, and in the OR at the CRUDEM’s Hopital Sacre Couer in Milot, Haiti.

In 2012 she was approached by two physicians on the L&D unit to be part of a new medical mission trip focusing on the Philippines and specifically the people of Ilo Ilo City.

Kristina joined the Marian Rose World Mission (with Dr. Cris Pamaar) and the Life Is Great Global Foundation (with Drs. Ernanni Sadural and Sarah Timmapuri) focusing her work on womens health.

She began reading books by Nicholas Kristof (NY Times journalist) about global poverty, and specifically the impact on women-- socially, physically and emotionally.

She also read a powerful book by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, to gain more knowledge on global poverty and its healthcare impact. As a nurse you are educated to become a change agent and Kristina wanted to make a difference.

Today, Kristina has traveled to the Philippines on 4 medical missions trips, doing work in the OR, cervical cancer screening, education of high school girls with self-breast exams and STD’s, and has been part of a team training midwives over a 2-day seminar.

Her specific role is teaching and equipping the midwives with assessment skills at birth, Neonatal Resuscitation Practice and distributing positive pressure ventilation bags to the midwives to take back to their birthing clinics.

Over the last two years the seminar team, Kristina had the privilege to train 200 midwives in the use of NRP, CPR, postpartum hemorrhage and shoulder dystocia drills.

Kristina continues her service in L&D at Saint Barnabas, now as a charge nurse. She is working on advanced degrees in nursing education and looks forward to more medical volunteerism abroad.

Nurses With Global Impact is extremely proud of our relationship with our sister non-profit, the Life is Great Global Foundation, who nominated Kristina for this well-deserved honor. We look forward to recognizing Kristina on May 11, at the United Nations, as we celebrate her and all truly international nurses making a big difference!

– Deb