This International Nurses Day we are excited to celebrate nurses everywhere and tell you about our very own Jackie Newton. See how this incredible nurse learned new digital skills when in-person Orbis Flying Eye Hospital projects were postponed. Your support makes it possible for training to continue even during the pandemic.

Jackie Newton loves everything about being a staff nurse on board the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. She enjoys caring for patients, the genuine camaraderie of the Orbis team, and training nurses from around the world. She even likes the physical demands.

This job was made for Jackie.

Jackie was eagerly preparing for the Flying Eye Hospital projects in Zambia and Cameroon. Then COVID-19 hit. As the lead nurse of these projects, her responsibility for guiding the in-person training was immense. But with the postponement of the trips, her teaching plans needed to change.

She was told to start planning for remote training. Jackie always thought of herself as a hands-on, on-your-feet-for-12-hours-a-day type of person.

Jackie Newton teaches nurses on board the Flying Eye Hospital in Vietnam

Jackie Newton trains nurses during a Flying Eye Hospital project in Vietnam in 2017. During COVID-19, she has had to reimagine hands-on training as completely virtual.

Like many of us, Jackie needed to quickly adapt her work to the new realities of the global pandemic. But thanks to our long history of online teaching and training, Jackie got the support she needed from the rest of the Orbis team.

But with the right support from the Orbis team, she knew she could succeed.

Jackie has always enjoyed the variety in her nursing career at Orbis.

Like all nurses, embracing challenges and adventures is something Jackie does with gusto. Her penchant for this can be traced back to when she was first searching for the right career path.

Jackie Newton

Flying Eye Hospital staff nurse

Every day is quite dif­fer­ent from the oth­er – no sin­gle day is the same – which is what I love about it.

Jackie Finds Her Calling

During her childhood in South Africa, Jackie dreamt of becoming a flight attendant until her mom suggested she go into nursing. It seemed a perfect path for her, so she gave it a try. “When I started, I realized I love serving people and helping people that are sick,” Jackie said.

A while later, she had the opportunity to work at an eye hospital in Saudi Arabia. She jumped at the chance for a new experience in another country. There, she learned from her colleagues about the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. She even met and was inspired by its then Head Nurse.

She learned that Orbis not only saves sight around the world, but also trains local eye health workers and partners with local hospitals.

Jackie not only had a passion for travelling and a love of nursing, but she also enjoyed teaching others. She set her sights on a job on board the Flying Eye Hospital and one year later was taking off with the rest of the team.

Jackie Newton

Flying Eye Hospital staff nurse

I now get to be the air host­ess [flight atten­dant] I want­ed to be grow­ing up. I even enjoy the chal­lenges the work brings. At the end of the day, you know you have been work­ing hard. I find it reward­ing and satisfying.
Jackie Newton pictured on board the Flying Eye Hospital

Jackie Newton fulfills her childhood dream of working on board an airplane. (This photo was taken in 2018.)

Jackie and the Flying Eye Hospital Go Virtual

Jackie’s next challenge was figuring out how to transfer her knowledge virtually instead of via the usual hands-on approach. She set up her training courses using Orbis’s telemedicine platform, Cybersight.

With the help from her team, her confidence grew and it didn't take Jackie long to get into her stride. The nursing participants really started working as a team. When Jackie and the participants saw each other during the live sessions, they felt a sense of accomplishment and togetherness. “We were getting through this challenging time together. Camaraderie,” she said. “This is what it is all about now.”

laptop and iPhone on a table, both showcasing the Orbis Cybersight page

In response to the pandemic, we took our training online, launching the VIRTUAL Flying Eye Hospital program. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue to work with our partners to fight blindness and vision loss in communities across the world.

Celebrating All Nurses and Their Achivements This Year

Jackie’s dedication to the nursing participants in Zambia and Cameroon is second to none. Her challenge was to create an enriching learning experience similar to her hands-on training program… and she succeeded! Her generosity continued in her own community in South Africa. Early in the pandemic, Jackie volunteered her time working on the front lines to help a local hospital screen people for COVID-19. 

A big THANK YOU to Jackie Newton and all the other incredible nurses around the world. You are leading our healthcare systems through these historically difficult times. We honor you and the amazing work you have done keeping people healthy this year.

Flying Eye Hospital staff nurse Elisa Urruchi, with Volunteer Faculty scrub nurse Ms. Irma Casale

Thank you to nurses everywhere who play such vital roles in keeping people healthy and safe, every single day!

And thanks to people like you, our wonderful supporters and donors, we can continue to deliver training safely. This means more people can benefit from sight-saving treatment!

Donate today to help train nurses in communities around the world!

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