While spring break is most often used by faculty members for much deserved relaxation, Jill Krell feels blessed to use hers doing what she loves: teaching nursing students and serving a mission field in Mexico.

Jill Krell, DNP, RN has been a faculty member with Concordia University Wisconsin School of Nursing for the past ten years. Having earned a ‘trifecta’ of degrees from Concordia (BSN, MSN and her doctorate DNP), she continues to serve her alma mater with her dedication to teaching nursing, as well as displaying servant leadership in a mission field.

Groups of Concordia nursing students have been traveling to Ensenada, Mexico to work with Aqua Viva Ministries during spring break for over twenty years, and Jill has been leading the mission trip since 2012.  Ensenada is the third-largest port in the Mexican state of Baja, California. The city is located 72 miles south of Tijuana in Bahia de Todos Santos, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, with a backdrop of small mountain ranges.  With a population of just over a half million residents, it serves as the main municipal seat, and cultural and commercial center of the region. Ensenada has rich diversity shaped by Spanish, Russian and American influences. This heritage, in tandem with the health needs of its residents, provides a robust learning environment, as well as abundant opportunities for mission outreach.

For the past eight years, the Theodore W. Batterman Foundation has generously supported this important mission endeavor, funding as many as 25 undergraduate students annually. The excellence of Jill’s work with the students is exemplified by the fact that the Foundation continues to invite her to request funding each year.

Collaboration between undergraduate nursing students and graduate students is a unique element of the trip, and this joint provision of outstanding health care has consistently impressed Dr. Krell and other group leaders.  And since the graduate students not only mentor the undergraduate students, but also oversee care they are providing, Jill’s keen insight provided leadership to also seek financial support for graduate students.  As a result, in 2018 the Foundation awarded additional funding to 10 graduate students.

Aqua Viva Ministries, Ensenada, Mexico

A goal of Aqua Viva Ministries is to provide opportunities to experience first-hand God’s work through missions. Over the course of three days, three clinics are held in different locations, which vary according to medical needs of citizens in surrounding areas. Jill admits the days can become very long and tiresome, but the purpose is to provide healthcare to as many people as possible while in Mexico, in addition to reaching people with the Gospel.  This aligns perfectly with the mission of Concordia to develop students in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.

The week passes quickly as undergraduate students perform tasks such as: vital signs, health history, chief complaint, height/weight, blood sugars, and charting. Graduate students assume a leadership role to assess/evaluate, examine, diagnose, and provide a treatment plan for acute and chronic illnesses. They also order lab tests and prescribe medications. Rotating through the “pharmacy”, provides experience in dosing, especially for pediatric patients. A Mexican physician and a provider from the United States are always onsite with the students.  This short YouTube video displays Concordia nursing students in action in a very busy clinic setting!

The students also tour a hospital to learn firsthand about healthcare in Mexico. As an additional experience, they have a ‘cultural day,’ in which they visit local markets, beach, or eat at local establishments, giving them an appreciation of the differences that affect people’s health in Mexico.  As part of this cultural exchange, students collect donations, such as personal hygiene products, baby items, and toys prior to the trip to hand out at the clinics, which are enthusiastically received by their clinic patients.

A message from Aqua Viva Ministries sums up the importance and contribution the students make, “Thank you for investing your time and resources to continue to reach Mexico for Christ. There is no doubt that what you did will have eternal effects. Everything your group did clearly showed the love of Christ working in you… something that will not be forgotten.”

And it’s clear the spiritual benefits go in both directions. Dr. Krell relates a student message that states, God has taught me that I would serve Him through serving others.” Jill also tells of another student who hadn’t been to church since being confirmed.  She was so moved spiritually during the trip that she planned to return to church when she got back to Wisconsin.  Mutually powerful outcomes for both students and those they serve!

Concordia is so proud and thankful to have Dr. Jill Krell, one of Concordia’s own, as part of the School of Nursing faculty of excellence.  Jill’s work truly exemplifies the mission of Concordia, and her students will remember the Mexico experience, not only in nursing practice, but for the rest of their lives.

If you have further questions about the Mexico Mission with Aqua Viva Ministries, please feel free to contact Dr. Krell at jill.krell@cuw.edu.

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