We arrived in Eleuthera on Saturday, went to church and explored the island Sunday, and have been busy ever since. Eleuthera is 110 mile beautiful island flanked by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other. At one place we visited, the island is so narrow that you can see both at once! The island is divided into many small communities, called settlements, each of which has its own personality. We are calling Tarpum Bay settlement our home for the week.
There are several clinics throughout the island that serve the different communities. Each day we have split up into groups of 2-3 students per clinic to work closely with the Bahamian nurses there. Some clinics are very small, staffed by only one nurse, and others are larger with 3-4 nurses, a clerk, doctor, and janitorial staff. As students we assist in whatever way we can; patient intake and triage, medication preparation and administration, family planning, charting, and health screenings. The nurses here have more autonomy than the typical RNs we have worked with in clinicals, and their role is integral in Bahamian healthcare, so we have much to learn from them.
In addition to our time in the clinics, each day a few of us visits the local schools to talk with students about mental health and raise awareness of its impact. We created lesson plans to engage students of various ages in discussion of coping skills, bullying, anger management, substance abuse, depression, and sexual abuse. These topics are not often discussed in Bahamian life, however many students are struggling in these areas and we have had some great conversations about these topics.
While we’ve had meaningful talks with the students, we have also encountered some challenges. For instance, we faced resistance when talking with some high school students about bullying. We saw bullying firsthand and decided to come back the next day to continue the conversation. We talked with that group’s teacher afterward to identify strategies that could help us be more effective in our next lesson, and we look forward to trying again tomorrow. The teachers have told us how important this subject matter is to their students, but they don’t typically have time for it in their curriculum so they are welcoming us in to have these tricky discussions.
We all switched sites midweek so we are all looking forward to learning from a new group of nurses in a different settlement.
Fun fact: there are many friendly community dogs roaming the island and the Bahamians call them “potcakes.”