Nursing has been identified as having the potential for making the biggest impact on a transformation of healthcare delivery to a safer, higher quality, and more cost-effective system. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of accredited auxiliary nurses (similar to LPN in the US) who speak Maya languages in our region. We at Hospitalito Atitlán struggle when recruiting Tz'utujil and K'aqchikel speaking nurses as there are few or no applicants. This translates to lower access to healthcare for the population of Sololá in a native language, which results in worse health outcomes. In national hospitals, there is oftentimes discrimination against indigenous populations.
One reason for the lack of nurses in Sololá is limited access to nursing education. The closest nursing school is more than two hours away, and travel and inscription fees can be cost prohibiting. Many nursing schools are in urban areas with high crime rates and violence, so students may be afraid to travel.
In Guatemala, health care institutions meeting requisites of the National Association of Nurses can open accredited nursing schools at their facilities. This new project starting in 2024 would leverage Hospitalito Atitlán’s facilities and staff to establish the first accredited auxiliary nursing school in Sololá.
The K'aslimaal/Hospitalito Atitlán nursing school will provide educational opportunity for the people of Santiago Atitlán, San Pedro la Laguna, San Juan la Laguna and San Lucas Tolimán, to aid in community development by producing qualified nurses to work in clinics, community projects, and hospitals. The program will need support for training materials, computers, laboratories, need-based scholarships, and professional mentorship. We believe that all people should have access to healthcare in their maternal language.