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Surgical technician: Helping people is its own reward

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholasa Partida, surgical service technician, prepares a room for a urology procedure during a New Horizons Belize 2014 medical readiness training exercise May 22, 2014, at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, Belize. A U.S. Air Force surgical team arrived in Belize to spend two weeks conducting urology procedures and surgeries in coordination with the KHMH urologist. Approximately 40 patients were screened through the KHMH, and about 20 procedures are planned during this phase of the training exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholasa Partida, surgical service technician, prepares a room for a urology procedure during a New Horizons Belize 2014 medical readiness training exercise May 22, 2014, at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City, Belize. A U.S. Air Force surgical team arrived in Belize to spend two weeks conducting urology procedures and surgeries in coordination with the KHMH urologist. Approximately 40 patients were screened through the KHMH, and about 20 procedures are planned during this phase of the training exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

BELIZE CITY -- For U.S. Staff Sgt. Nicholasa Partida, New Horizons surgical service technician, "helping people, in general, is its own reward," she said.

As a surgical service technician, Partida finds herself in operating rooms assisting surgeons and specialists as they perform necessary, and sometimes life-saving, procedures. In Belize, she is doing the same as part of New Horizons Belize 2014, a multi-faceted exercise that provides valuable training experiences for Belizean and U.S. medical providers.

"This is my first humanitarian mission, and it's pretty awesome," said Partida, a native of Victoria, Texas. "I'm here helping patients. I'm here helping the urologists.

"Back home, everything can seem real routine, but it's not routine here at all," she said of the opportunity to train and learn in her field. "There are a lot of things you would normally not see in the states. Here, we're going back to the basics."

The technician has found that flexibility is imperative when conducting operations in an unfamiliar environment.

"The equipment here is different, so we adjust," she said. "You have a big sense of adrenaline because you have to think on your toes, utilizing everything we have in any way we can."

With more than nine years in the Air Force, Partida still finds great job satisfaction in her work.

"I mainly joined the military for the education," she said, noting her plans did not involve remaining in the Air Force for long. "But then I really loved my job.

"I even went back to school to specialize in urology," she said, "and I've been doing that for the last four years."

Currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Partida serves as the NCO in charge of the urology clinic. She applies her vast knowledge to her experiences in Belize while remaining accommodating to whatever the day throws her way.

"I've really learned to go with the flow," she said. "We'll use whatever we have and whatever we can use that's best for the patient."

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