[Warning: Long with nursing talk, whence the title]
I have only had a small window into what my nursing role will look like here on The Ranch. Here’s a peak!
By helping a random kid: We had an activity at the canchas (courts) of Buen Pastor last week, and when I arrived there was a little boy on the ground holding his knee and crying. I tried to examine it, but I really didn’t know what to do (or what to say), and finally Heather (the current nurse) came over. We ended up taking him to the Internal Clinic and getting a better look. I think he was ok, just a rough hit, most likely horsing around with his friends. But, it was good to see what to do in a situation like that. Heather pretty much runs the show when there is no doctor around, as she is the only licensed medical professional (until I showed up!). The other nurses are more like LPNs, or CNAs. There is another girl, Rosa, who is in university for nursing, and will be a registered nurse. Here in Honduras, to be a licensed, registered nurse you have to go through university. Which actually is kind of cool. Maybe Magnet Designation could be attainable here? Ha.
By working in the External Clinic: Last week we also had morning training in our areas of work, so I was able to spend a little time in the External Clinic. It’s a very different nursing role, something I knew to expect, but still a little surprising when I saw it first hand. Again, Heather basically runs the show. She opens the clinic, begins the flow of patients, and answers many, many questions. It’s a lot more administrative than I was expecting, somehow. There is another nursing student (I believe more LPN) who helps out and does ‘pre-clinic’ which consists of a small triage and vital signs. Heather also takes turns doing this, depending on how many patients there are and for a change of pace. Then, because there is only one doctor, the patients wait until their turn, which can be up to 5 hours. It’s kind of sad to see them all waiting, but no one seems to complain, as this is their only way to get affordable and legit care. Sometimes the doctor will need help with wound care, or prescribes nebulizer treatments or injections, etc which will be done by Heather, and soon by me!
And, by being the patient: On Friday, we were supposed to have a full day of training, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for me. As some of you may know, I have been a little sick for the last week, battling a sore throat that turned into fevers and aches. Rings of the flu, huh?? Well, after a restless night and waking up my roommates and Heather (God Bless them!), I succumbed to actually seeing a doctor at the Internal Clinic. Yes, yes, I know… I should have gone earlier, but it’s true that nurses sometimes make the worst patients. The whole process was a little overwhelming, more because I had to try to do everything in Spanish when I had a fever and headache, and focusing in general was difficult. The doctor examined me and said everything was fine, but was concerned about my fever of “unknown origin,” so she ordered a urinalysis. Really? Huh, I supposed that could make sense. Um, I wasn’t convinced. But, I did as I was told and then she said I had to take it to the external clinic where the lab was. Seriously? I have to take my pee all the way to there? I mean, it’s a long walk in general, but when you are sick it’s like walking to the moon. Thank the Lord, Kate (another volunteer who works in the surgery center next to the external clinic) needed to go down there and offered to take it for me so I could collapse back in my bed! I went back later in the afternoon to get my results, and to my surprise, I have some sort of kidney/bladder/urinary tract infection. I really feel like I have no symptoms to make this coincide with the results of the UA, but the doctor was concerned and ordered antibiotics. I was happy about this because I just wanted some sort of antibiotics to kill whatever was causing me to be sick! So, now I am on a daily dose of IV Ceftriaxone for 7 days. Yup, I get to be poked every day somewhere new. Now, when I got my first dose, I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous. I mean, the first time I get an infection that requires IV antibiotics I am in another country? Awesome. So, I was watching Rosa (remember she is in school, but actually very, very good) like a hawk as she was preparing the med and looking for a vein (I was a little dehydrated), and then when she actually gave it to me. I have to say she was pretty good, but it’s just a little nerve racking. Alcohol wipes are like gold here, and are only used sparingly, so most of the time they use cotton balls soaked in alcohol or whatnot. She also reused her glove, and then put it on inside out with the latex powder going everywhere. And, I am not sure I have seen her wash her hands. Ha, oh the joys of medicine in a different country.
Let me just say one more thing… all of this is for FREE! I mean, 7 days of IV antibiotics in the US usually requires a hospital admission, which just makes things way more expensive. But, a perk of being a volunteer here, your medical care is free. Unless of course you need something more intense, then my international insurance would kick in.
I am feeling better today, thank God. These antibiotics are doing their thing. I am ready to move on and learn all about my job. I am actually really looking forward to getting started next week with Heather, practicing my Spanish, and start helping people! I mean, that’s why I am here, right? Let’s get this party started!