OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

Last Week on the Men’s Ward


It has been quite a week. Today I am realizing that this my last day as nursing student. This week on the men’s ward was challenging because of the number of acute patients and the limited resources . It also was a challenge as nine out of the 12 of us came down with a nasty GI bug that unfortunately has made us feel quite sick the last couple of days. Again, the team pulls through and we care and support each other the best we can. Even on the other side of the world, thanks to Lauren and Ali we had soup for dinner and it is the best thing when you are sick.
The experience on the men’s ward really showed me this week the challenge of the number of patients , the shortage of staff and acuity. It would seem like any time we walked by or started to get involved in the patients care , we would find a case that would lead us to advocate for that patient’s needs and see some cases as more of a concern than the staff did. I still stand by our concerns, however considering I know I would burnout very quickly if I gave it 100% on this ward everyday. There are images and sounds from this week that I will not be able to forget. I could see how the past weeks have changed me and confidence level. When it came to trying to advocate for patient to receive more medical attention, I went in not hesitating to get a doctor to listen to me and write out an order. At home prior to this practicum it made me
so nervous to make a call for orders from a doctor , and here I am now I am now challenging , offering suggestions and getting into a debate if a patient should be moved to the ICU. I think I might be getting a reputation, but also the respect of some of the doctors , because I hope they see that I advocate for the patients. 
I worked with a few of the student nurses this week learned more of their role. In a lot of ways we have similar frustrations. It was neat though that throughout the morning I was able to show how I do a head to toe assessment and demonstrate documentation. I did notice however the value of building the relationships with the staff because later when more serious case was underway, I had the support of staff and students. We trusted each other. 
We went to an orphanage this week for girls that have had their lives impacted by the HiV virus. We were greeted with songs, the history , and made to feel very welcome. It was nice that after a hard day at the hospital we were able to go and play a game of soccer and other games. It still never gets old , hearing the children sing and is very much part of the culture.
We came home and got ready to have a fantastic dinner and celebrate my birthday. This one is definitely one for the books to remember. To be sitting a group of women that have been so fortunate to learn from and share this experience is what I was reflecting on as looked down the table and read my card. Thank you to everyone for making it birthday never to forget . Although who knew later that night a majority of us would fall ill. Haha so I didn’t finish my last few days of clinical like I thought , but TIA and so glad to have great instructors and team members to look after us.
This truly has been an experience of a lifetime, and so glad that it worked out for me to be able to do this . I always dreamed of going to Africa , especially after my grade 6 project , but didn’t think I would be doing this. I wouldn’t trade this for a regular practicum at home because of the growth and development that I have made and don’t think I would have otherwise.  
Thanks for all the love and support! 

Aileen

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