Archive for Lisa Pham

Montego Bay: Nursing is an art and a science

After three days in Jamaica, we all started to have a routine: wake up, get ready, eat eggs, drink coffee, and file into the two blue buses with Willie and Mr. Miller (our amazing bus drivers) to start the day.

As the blue vans started driving down the rugged gravel roads, I still could not grasp the fact that we were driving on the opposite side of the road. The separation between each lane were so small that it felt like we were hugging the other drivers going the opposite direction. However, both Willie and Mr. Miller had no fear or hesitation. They swiftly diverted the pot holes, the sharp turns, and the other experienced drivers.

We started the day by heading to a day school for children. Remi (BSN ’17) took charge and started the education with hand washing. The children excitedly washed their hands in the court yard and then vigorously rubbed glo germ all over their fingers. With a black light, Remi and the other students demonstrated how well the kids performed the hand washing. The children’s eyes widened as their hands glowed. We knew that this activity captured their interest. We then followed the hand washing education with teaching children how to brush their teeth and how to eat a balanced meal. Dr. Ades would be proud!

img_1913 img_1859 img_1846 img_1795


We also continued to provide free health screenings to the educators of the school. They continuously smiled as we taught them about diet, exercise, and their overall health. Overjoyed with appreciation, they showered us with hugs and genuine compliments.

Filled with affirmation, we drove to Cornwall Regional Hospital where we were greeted by the Chief Nursing Officer, Marva Lawson-Byfield, at the Ministry of Health Jamaica. She intently started at us as she shared her love for her patients and for the career of nursing. “Nursing is an art and a science. The art is in the heart and the science is in the conscious.”

Her words reminded us of our choice in nursing and those words continued to resonate with us as we toured the different wards of the hospital. When we reflected afterwards about this humbling experience, we realized that different aspects of the hospital impacted us. Some of us recognized that their lack of an EMR system served them well and allowed them to break away from routine and use their minds to serve others. Some of us saw this as an overwhelming experience and how this hospital reminded them of why they decided to become nurses. Lastly, some of us witnessed nurses creating innovative solutions and loving care to their patients. Ms. Lawson-Byfield said it well when she ended her welcoming speech emphasizing how attitude towards your job and towards your patient is every thing.

With our stomachs growling, we headed to Juici Patties to culture ourselves with Jamaican patty. This flaky baked pastry shell contained different fillings (beef, chicken, or vegetables) that exploded in my mouth with a diverse mixture of mesmerizing spices.


We then continued our day with a Cornwall Regional Hospital Nurse Graduation. The soon to be nurses slowly walked into the church with their blue striped hats and their crisp white dresses. As I watched them, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering to our own graduation either in either May or December of next year.

After sharing the experience with Jamaica’s future nurses, we ended our day with a children after school program that overlooked the lush Jamaican mountains. As our blue van slowly drove up to the gate, Candace (ABSN ’17) opened the van door and said “Change of plans”. As team lead with Blair (BSN ’17), they decisively directed five of us to quickly prepare a skit about bullying, delegated three of us to follow the skit with yoga, and sent two of us to the office to provide health screenings for the staff.

Prior to the skit, Dria (ABSN ’17) invited two of the children up to participate in the skit and stand up for the girl that was being bullied (me-Lisa, ABSN ’17). The girls courageously said “stop!” and stood in front of me to hinder Dria and Sarah (ABSN ’17) from their actions. Through this experience, we started to see their understanding and their strength.

Alex (BSN ’17) also creatively took a few females to the corner of the playground to discuss women’s health. Besides the unexpected rap performance by the girls, she ultimately created an open space for the girls to speak comfortably about being a women, about hormones, sex, and contraceptives.


Although the day was long, hot, and sweaty, we witnessed health promotion at work through each other and through the people of Jamaica. It’s amazing to see the amount of heart and commitment my peers have for those they serve. I am excited to see our next adventure tomorrow! 

MoBay Debrief

The voices in the hallway vibrated across our thin hotel door. My eyes slowly opened as the sunlight slowly pierced through our curtains. It is remarkable to think that only 1 week ago, 18 strangers stepped on this island not fully knowing what this trip entailed. Now, on our final night, we laughed and reflected on our memories together over a delicious meal by the ocean side.

It amazed me how passionate this team was in order to serve the Jamaican community. During our last debrief, we shared our experiences of this trip and I witnessed the impacts that this beautiful country and its people had on each of us. In our last blog, we shared the humans of Montego Bay and today, I wanted to share the humans of Emory Nursing.

Alex (BSN ’17)


“I really admired the teen girls and moms. They were so brave and strong even through everything. The moms cared about their children so much. They were so willing to open up. The strength of the women here was so amazing.”

Ivey (ABSN ’17)


“One of the things that struck me about this whole trip was the schedule. We were only going to be at places for like two hours. However, once I was on the trip, we ended up learning about ourselves. It affirmed why I wanted to be a nurse. I coach soccer and when I heard Madam Chief talk about the head, the hands, and the heart, it resonated to me. Everything is heart.”

Blair (BSN ’17)


“My favorite part of this trip was the hospice because it was the population I was created to serve. I also really enjoyed the rural part when we talked about the prostate. We were out in the middle of no where and we were able to serve the population. I saw the impact of nursing.”

Dria (ABSN ’17)


“From this trip, I think it is also important that we think about the stereotypes we had when we came in. We had experiences we never had before. It is really important to look within ourselves, to see our own hidden stereotypes, and to look at what we have learned. We need to constantly keep asking ourselves these questions”

Fielding (BSN ’17)


“Montego Bay has given me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and explore a part of nursing that I do not typically engage myself in. It has been gratifying to work with all ages, genders, and cultures knowing that we have left a lasting impact on these people, as they have done the same for me.”

Meghan (ABSN ’17)


“During counseling with the community, I was trying to tell a man the difference between brown and white rice. The man was like ‘Whaaaaat.’ He was really fascinated and intrigued by the whole thing. It was amazing that people took away what I taught them.”

Nicole (BSN ’17)


“I started crying because there was so much at the hospice we couldn’t do. However, we connected on a spiritual and relational level. This is a reminder that we can do more. It is more than treating. We can give hope and encouragement to others.”

Sarah (ABSN ’17)


“They are so innovative. Everyone we talked to was so passionate. There are definitely a lot of things we can take away from them. Meeting Madam Chief Byfield was also a powerful experience and we were all inspired by her strong words.”

Jackie (BSN ’17)


“One thing I learned from this trip is a new definition of rich. We come from a very rich country but Jamaica is rich in a different way. They are rich in their love. They don’t have a lot, but they are willing to share. Seeing how thankful they are, I was blown away. I never expected to be embraced by Jamaica as we have been.”

Elianne (ABSN ’17)


“I loved seeing all of us being so flexible. It has motivated me. This has been such a new population, but we have been able to do it. While overhearing the conversations and watching us work with our situations, it really has motivated me to learn more and not rely on only conventional medicine. To think outside the box.”

Remi (BSN ’17)


“I learned about everyone on my team, about myself, and about Jamaica. It was eye opening and we take a lot of things for granted. I also learned that I had leadership skills that I didn’t know I had.”

Candice (ABSN ’17)


“The trip has been wonderful. I have been amazed by family and community, the presence of God in Jamaica. Even with the hardest problems, they still keep a good sense of peace.”

Sophia (AMSN ’18)


“My most significant experience was at the orphanage. A boy crawled over and propped himself next to me and hugged my leg. It is so touching to see the infants and and their love.”

Fauziya (BSN ’17)


“A lady we saw had a blood pressure of 190/100 and we had to tell her daughter to have her mother seek medical care. Her daughter responded that she usually has that. It frustrated me that her mother was suffering from this elevated blood pressure, but there was nothing we could do. But working with such a vulnerable population makes it a more rewarding impact. It has really been a humbling experience.”

Lisa (ABSN ’17)


“Witnessing the passion and dedication of everyone on this team has been inspiring. Everyone was so willing to step and it encouraged me to step up myself.”

Elizabeth (BSN ’17)


“The experience puts things in perspective and makes you appreciate what you have. I really enjoyed our nursing and just our general life skills. Being able to assess situations by being group leaders and meeting people at where they are at.”

Dr. Horigan


“Sometimes, we lose the head and the heart. We need to step it up and be proud of who we are. It is not just a job. There are no half points because there are no half lives.”

Dr. Muirhead


“Building a team is so important. As long as we impact one life, that is enough. It is not about us. It is about the service.”

Thank you Emory and Jamaica for this amazing experience.


“I never thought I would bond with a team over milk of magnesia” -Ivey

Humans of Montego Bay

During our time in Montego Bay, we met some incredible people with even more incredible stories. We were encouraged and embraced by each of them as we had the privilege to serve them. It had become evideimg_2173nt that our trip was intended to be more than the act of pouring out materials to a resource poor city. Rather, it was meant to be an opportunity to serve others while learning valuable lessons that are worth more than anything money can buy. Today, we had the privilege to talk to some of the people in the city of Retirement. We asked them what motivated them to come in today for their health screenings and their answers reflected their eagerness to learn about their health. Thank you to these amazing individuals for volunteering their stories.









“It is important to know of your cancer or your blood sugar so that you can be treated and take medication for it. I saw the driver and was told about the health screening so I decided to stop by. It is always good to know than to not know.”









“Experience with getting my blood sugar checked. I thought it was going to be painful but it was not. It was the first time to know what is going on with me.”









“In a community we appreciate all of the activities going on. Check on your system to find out what problems you have.”









“Because we don’t have money to private doctor and since you are free, why not come. There are a lot of people and no doctors to attend. We appreciate you guys coming. There are so many diseases coming around that make me very concerned. We have to make sure to check our systems to see if we are okay. With you guys here, we feel good.”









“It has gotten better but before, it was not so good. All day and all night to see a doctor. They just give you a prescription and that’s it. I am diabetic and my health is really important. Only Metformin is free. Insulin, you have to buy. In so many years, you are the first in 15 years that have come out to screen us.” img_2159








“Very excited to come. We need to keep our body healthy, eat properly to stay active.”


Lastly we had the honor of talking to Marva Lawson-Byfield, the Chief Nursing Officer of Jamaica, as she shared inspirational words with us. Almost every one of us were welling with tears in our eyes when she reminded us of how important it is to not only learn the code of nursing ethics but to actually put it into practice. The way in which she spoke with absolute confidence, warmth, and authenticity left us in awe of her ability to touch all people in such a personal way. In some ways, we felt like we were watching our childhood super hero while dreaming to be like her one day. By the end of the night, we were filled with the hope and the motivation to soon become the type of nurse that she described– one that serves others with the guidance of our head, heart, and hands.









“If nurses don’t care, the patient dies. The head and the hands must be guided by the heart.”

In the words of Reverend Clement Clarke, the senior pastor of Montego Bay New Testament Church of God, “Do not ever forget, nursing is a calling.” 


Walking in the Shoes of an Emory Student Nurse in Montego Bay

Considering an alternative winter/spring break trip? Well this post is for you. Before I made the decision to apply for the Montego Bay alternative winter break trip, I had to think long and hard about which trip I wanted to go on and if this was how I wanted to spend my break. The thought of going to an unfamiliar country on a service learning trip seemed both exciting yet nerve-racking at the same time. So here’s a little insight on a day in the life of a student nurse in MoBay.

0710: Wake up. Shower. Put on the same scrubs from yesterday. Spray sunscreen and bug spray. Oops, accidentally inhaled it. It burns but it’s better than getting Zika.

0730: Breakfast. Fruit, lots of coffee, and eggs. Yum. Quick meeting before we hit the road.

0745: Time to go. Our bus driver is seriously the best. Drive to the Montego Bay Women’s Centre. It’s a bumpy ride. Someone’s walking their goat on the side of the road. Jamaica is so interesting.

0830: Arrived. Our team leads (Elianne Carroll and Fielding Glenn) go into the the Women’s Centre first to assess the area and come back to direct our teams on which modules will work best with the group. We’re split up and we move. Candice Brooks and Alex Arzenshek educate women on prenatal care and contraception. They also pass out heat packs that we made last night with rice and socks and it’s a hit. I guess we’re buying more rice tomorrow.


0845: The rest of the group is either working the screening station (blood pressure, hypertension education, height/weight/BMI, and glucose checks) or are singing Christmas carols with the kids. The kids are so loving. I wish we had more time to play with them.


0930: Screen the staff while some of us watch the kids. The staff are thankful and kind to us.



1025: Gather in a circle. Pass the snack bag around. The chocolate granola bar is the best (shout out to Dr. Muirhead for the snacks). Debrief. We apply the PDSA (plan, do, study, act) model we learned. What went well? Whast could have gone better? What do we need to modify to be even more successful at our next session?


1030-1400: Again, we divide and conquer at Blossom Garden’s Children’s Home. A home for foster kids. This round, Nicole Amadio and Fauziya Ali are the team leads. The number of school age kids is different than expected, but the remain calm and modify the plan as needed. Flexibility is key on this trip. Some of us are with the school age kids. Remi Erlich teach the kids how to sneeze into their sleeves. Excellent. Lisa Pham teach the kids how to brush their teeth correctly (circular motions). The rest are either with toddlers or infants playing with them and loving on them. Dria Ambramson breaks one of the swings while swinging with a toddler. The toddler was unscathed. Dria, you’re amazing.

1430: Lunch time. Refuel. Debrief. Get ready for the next site.

1500-1525: On our way to the Caribbean Christian School for the Deaf. Definitely still not used to this bumpy van ride. Also still not used to being on the “other” side of the road–not the “wrong” side (according to Willie, our van driver). We’re also all panicking about next semester’s classes but it’s okay because at least we’re panicking together. Time for a power nap for me. ZzzzZzz

1530-1600: Fielding Glenn, Sophie Shiere, and Meghan Elizabeth lead a yoga session. Most of us can’t touch our toes but the kids seem to be having a blast. All worth it.


1600-1730: Christmas party downstairs! How sweet are the staff members to throw the kids a Christmas party with food and gifts? The kids are so excited. Laughter all around. My heart is full.





1900: Debrief. Throw our scrubs in the laundry (shout out to Dr. Horgian for doing the entire team’s laundry). Take a minute to relax and shower.

2000: Dinner time! Eat, laugh too much, and make friends with the staff. Take a group photo.

2200: Pick up our scrubs from the dryer. Head back to our rooms.

2300: Shower. Write a reflection journal. Hit the lights and do it all over again tomorrow.

Montego Bay: 16 nursing students, two professors and one breast model take Mobay

DAY 1| The bustling of the footsteps resonated throughout the Atlanta International Airport. All 16 of us arrived with high anticipation. Dr. Muirhead and Dr. Horigan, our two faculty instructors, directed as we quickly checked in eight packed suitcases of medical supplies and incentives (blood glucose monitors, gloves, band aids, hygiene kits, glasses, lotion, etc). We promptly started walking through TSA security with no concern or doubt that we would be stopped. However, we were completely wrong. Although most of us walked through smoothly, Dria (ABSN ’17) confidently knew that she would be stopped. “I just knew it,” she said as she shook her head after the incident. The red lights immediately flashed as her luggage passed through the security scanner. The TSA officer started searching through her personal items before pulling out the breast model she had for her breast self exam presentation. The officer’s eyebrows raised as she questioned, “what is this?” Without a second thought, Dria went nurse mode and preceded to educate her about breast exams. She even encouraged her to perform her own self exams and emphasized the importance of it. By the end of the conversation, Dria walked away with not only her breast model but also with the satisfaction about her premature patient education. We knew right then that this would be a good trip.

When we finally made it to Jamaica, we went straight to work. After refueling our energy with food, we took two hours packing first aid kits as incentives for our very first event! After designating leaders for this event, we headed over to The Church of God to speak with the individuals about the health related issues in Jamaica and Montego Bay.



Elianne Carroll (ABSN ’17) and Fauziya Ali (BSN ’17) created and executed the health module about the Zika virus. The ladies of the church listened intently as they followed them through their poster. In order to guide their understanding, we also provided them with an educational handout that had additional information to address any concerns.

img_1446 img_1438

After the presentation, we provided free blood pressure screenings and patient education. Dr. Muirhead floated around to assist and provided further patient education about actions individuals could take in order to help lower their blood pressure. Each participant received a gift bag with deodorant, anti-fungal cream, and their own personal first aid kit. The ladies and specifically the kids at the event enjoyed both the information and our presence.

img_1448img_1511 img_1498

We returned to the hotel in good spirits and hungry. After eating, debriefing, learning about hypertension education tips, and creating aromatherapy rice bags, we went straight to our rooms to say hello to our beds. FIRST DAY, SUCCESS.