global

A Vignette from Haiti

I am a huge proponent of hands-on experiences, activities outside of the classroom, and pursuing your hobbies. I spent a month providing health care in the villages of Gros Morne and Miragoane two years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. During my time there, I screened children in schools and villages that hadn’t seen health care in years. Seeing the public health issues in a developing country first hand was a life changing experience; one that cannot be matched by merely reading or watching the news. The houses and buildings that once stood were mere piles of rubble on the side of the street. The children I saw suffered from a wide range of disease – everything from crush injuries to ringworm. Children roamed the streets with no shoes and no pants, and just a ripped shirt on their backs. We were able to see and treat close to 400 children a day suffering from common conditions: scabies, ringworm, and malnutrition, to name a few. During the day, I had the chance to interact with children patiently lined up in the clinic waiting to be screened. While I cleaned wounds or gave medication they would teach me Creole. I spent my days repeating “un grenn pa jou” as I provided the packet of medications they would take home with them. “Un grenn pa jou” At night I was welcomed...

The Role of Social Support in Medicine

I sat attentively at the renal replacement meetings in South Africa where difficult decisions were made weekly. I quietly waited, pen and paper on my lap, as the social worker, dietician, nephrologists, nurses, residents, and fellows filed in to get a seat in the conference room.   Over the last five years, I have spent my postgraduate training exploring ways to increase access to and equity in organ transplantation. I, therefore, sat bewildered as I witnessed patients being denied access due to a lack of social support.   At this meeting, the transplant candidates were determined if they would end up on the waiting list. In this particular case, it was decided to deny a medically suitable patient a spot on dialysis. In South Africa, for patients without medical insurance, dialysis is an extremely limited resource. For patients to be accepted for dialysis, they are assessed both from a medical and social point of view. They need to be deemed good transplant candidates; be medically well, have good social support to ensure that they will come for their post-operative appointments, and adhere to the medicine regimen so as to not reject their newly transplanted kidney.   The medically suitable patient presented during the meeting was denied because they did not meet the social criteria. However unfortunate, this approach is employed to ensure that not only are patients given the...

Learning a Foreign Language in a Foreign Land

At our pre-departure Fulbright orientation, we had a stimulating lecture on ‘your identity abroad’. I was fascinated by the conversation that ensued but did not realize that it would apply to me directly. The racial categories South Africa were different than any other country I had experienced before. According to the 2011 Census, South Africans were categorized as ‘Black African’ at 80.2%, ‘White’ at 8.4%, ‘Coloured’ (multiracial) at 8.8%, ‘Indian’ at 2.5%, and ‘Other’ at 0.5%. When people saw me, they quickly categorized me as ‘Coloured’. When they heard me speak, my accent made it was clear that I was a foreigner. And when I finally told them I was Indian, they didn’t believe me. Before last year, I never thought that critically about my ethnicity, my identity, and what it meant to me until it was challenged. It wasn’t until others began to categorize me into groups, that I realized identifying as Indian American woman was essential to who I am and what I stand for. To me, Cape Agulhas, the point at which the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, isn’t just a location, it is a reflection. “To me, Cape Agulhas, the point at which the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, isn’t just a location, it is a reflection.”   My decision to take a beginners’ Xhosa class at the University of Cape Town in my...

A Lesson from Research: One Size Does Not Fit All

My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities, Cape Town and Baltimore, has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues. The reality of medicine is that patients do not have medical problems in isolation. The medical problems with which patients present occur in the context of their daily lives that are influenced to varying degrees by social, economic, and psychological factors. In Cape Town, at that time, it was often issues of transportation and water restrictions that determined both access to and the availability of healthcare. “My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues.” I walked into the HIV clinic excited to meet the next batch of patients I would recruit for my study. But as I started to get set up in the usually packed clinic, every seat was empty. I can recall being confused and curious while waiting in the typically congested HIV clinic to see it barren. I looked around trying to find someone who knew where the patients were or if I had missed something. Was it a national holiday I didn’t know about? Is there a workshop for these patients happening somewhere else in the hospital? I waited for an...

Three Ancient Medicinal Practices: A Look Back Through History

Get ready to be skeeved out and generally disgusted. In this article we will take a trip through history to review three different types of ancient medicinal practices. Warning, this article may contain content that can cause an unsettled stomach, (but the small amounts of humor and interesting facts can be an antidote).  Bloodletting Originating in the time of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, bloodletting is the practice of doing exactly what it sounds like, letting out blood to cure the disease.  Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen thought influenced the idea that blood was made of of four basic components, yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  So the practice ensued that if you had a sore throat, blood; migraines and stomach ache, blood; the plague, yep you can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Basically, any type of illness was thought to be solved through the purifying of one of the substances of the body.  This makes me appreciate history and the development of our society so much more, that I now can have a minor cold and go to the doctor without getting a leech attached to my arm or a knife to the leg. Animal Dung Ointments Another self explanatory name for another disgusting medicinal practice.  Poop, yes poop, used to be CELEBRATED by Egyptian physicians circa 1500 b.c.  It was used for it’s...

How Doctors and Nurses Can Work Together

Believe it or not, maintaining a healthy working relationship is often the most difficult thing for some nurses to accomplish in their career. This is usually because we are trained in nursing school to be emotional and empathic to our patient’s needs. For some, this comes more natural, while others really struggle at this.  When it comes to being professional we sometimes tend to react more emotionally then we should. It is unfortunate but lateral aggression, drama, power trips, and attention seeking personalities plague almost every workplace and especially in the healthcare field. As a nurse and particularly as a travel nurse you will run into these personalities everywhere. So let me share with you a few tips on how to fight this kind of behavior, which in turn can help you maintain a healthy working relationship with fellow nurses and physicians. Don’t Be So Emotional! Let me first start off by saying that nurses are emotional. This is not necessarily a bad thing to say considering we need to be in order to be sensitive to our patient’s needs. But reacting emotionally in tense situations and when receiving negative feedback can be a career ender for any nurse. You need to learn when to be emotional and when not to be. Make sense? It’s a tricky and often difficult skill to learn as a nurse. Let’s go over...

5 Resources to Boost Your AIDS Awareness

Our world is changing and it is important that we stay aware of what is happening. AIDS is not a new topic, but a lot has happened in the past few years regarding awareness thereof. It is said that people believe only a certain demographic can get infected. This is absolutely not true and anyone is at risk. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself, but a lot of people living with AIDS got infected without having a choice. Understanding what it means living with AIDS and how to prevent it is where one needs to start. I tried to find the best website to raise AIDS awareness, but there are actually a lot of good ones. These resources help build awareness and keep us updated with new developments. Luckily, we live in an advanced world where technology and science are changing our lives for the better. People living with AIDS no longer have no hope. There are medications out there to assist them in living a full and happy life. If you would like to educate yourself more on the subject, these resources are of a great help. AIDSHealth.org This is a great place to start when you are trying to learn some facts about AIDS. It is a website created by the University of California and has a lot of information. What is great...