Mercy Ships is the world’s largest floating civilian hospital that provides lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is nearly non-existent, free of charge.

An OR nurse, the fourth sponsored by Travel Nurse across America, is currently serving with Mercy Ships. Jill Wellman, originally from West Virginia, arrived in Cotonou, Benin in West Africa on October 2. She will be working on the Africa Mercy, one of Mercy Ships’ floating mission hospitals, through November 26. 

So far in her journey, Jill has spent time working on several different services within the OR: plastics, maxillofacial and general. She says she feels humbled and privileged to be part of these life-changing procedures, including the removal of large tumors, repair of facial deformities, repair of hernias and removal of lipomas.

Jill is housed aboard the ship with volunteers from around the globe who are tasked with every facet of the ship’s operation. In the operating room alone, she’s worked with team members from Holland, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Benin.

Prior to accepting her volunteer assignment, Jill felt called to serve with Mercy Ships. The more she read about the organization, she says, the more she fell in love with its mission. Wary of humanitarian efforts seeking to forcefully change things in developing countries, Jill feels Mercy Ships’ approach to partnership in the countries they serve is truly inspiring. “Instead of saying ‘we’re here and we’re going to fix you,’ they say ‘you tell us what you need and we’ll work together to achieve it.’” Jill says. “I think that’s what makes Mercy Ships so successful. They don’t claim to have all the answers, but they serve the One who does.”

Travel Nurse across America

Jill has been traveling with TNAA for the last year and has taken assignments in Washington, New Mexico and Virginia. She says travel nursing has prepared her well for the challenge of working aboard Mercy Ships, teaching her to be patient and adaptable. “If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll know what questions to ask, and that will help me tremendously while working with Mercy Ships,” she says.

To read more about Jill’s time aboard the Africa Mercy, follow here blog here. TNAA sponsors two of its travel nurses to volunteer with Mercy Ships each year. To become a TNAA travel nurse, click here.