Archive for Sarah Julius

Final Days in Moultrie

Packing up our “clinic” in the elementary school gym!

Setting up our last night camp (with no rain in sight!)

My time working in Moultrie, Georgia has officially come to an end and I’ve now had some time to reflect back on my experience. I had such an incredible and rewarding time and am so thankful I got to be a part of it. Our last night at a camp working with the men finally gave us some perfect weather; we didn’t get rained out and it hadn’t rained earlier in the day so there was no mud to slosh through either. We got to see and help every person that wanted to be seen which doesn’t always happen because of timing or weather, so we were all very happy to end on a positive note.The next morning we went back to the elementary school one last time to finish all of the charts for the kids we’ve seen and to pack up all of the supplies. We all met in the gym at the very end to wrap everything up and to take one last group picture before we left. We all talked about how much we’ve grown from this experience. I became more confident in my own skills, working in a constantly changing environment with multiple different disciplines around me.

Nursing students on a farm tour picking their own vegetables!

I met so many amazing people over the past two weeks. I grew so close with the other nursing students in my program and am so thankful to them for always working so hard and keeping such a positive attitude the entire time (even when I was driving them through some muddy, bumpy, dirt roads on the way to the camps). All of the other nurse practitioner students, pharmacy students, physical therapy students, and dental hygiene students were so incredible to work with and learn from; it was such a unique and rewarding experience to be able to work in such an interdisciplinary setting. The amazing faculty (special shoutout to our fearless leaders Dr. Wold and Dr. Ferranti) were so incredibly helpful and great to learn from; they were all so patient with us but treated us with such respect, allowing us to work independently and grow so much confidence in our nursing practice. None of our work at night could have been possible without our translators that volunteered their time to stay in rainy, bug-filled fields with us until after midnight just to make sure that we could help these men to the best of our abilities. I also wanted to thank all of the local churches that hosted us every single day for lunch and were so kind and inviting. Finally I want to thank the farmworkers for welcoming us into their lives and allowing us to provide medical care. These men work tirelessly all day in such tough conditions for little pay to bring us the affordable fruits and vegetables we eat every day.

Our nursing crew enjoying our last lunch at one of the local churches!

If any current or future nursing students are reading this, I so highly recommend doing the Farmworker Family Health Program and Rural Health course. I have learned so much throughout this program and could not imagine my nursing school experience without these past few weeks!

Day 7 and 8 at Moultrie – Going with the Flow

A nursing student checking the hearing of an elementary school student

It’s nearing the end of the last week of our Farmworker Family Health Program trip in Moultrie and I can’t believe my time here is almost done. Every one here has gotten so much into their routine that the days almost seem to meld together, flowing from one task to another. In the past few mornings at the elementary school, we have been seeing the last few kids that needed to go through the stations as well as a few kids that needed to be re-screened if they didn’t pass certain tests or assessments. Wednesday morning I was doing vision screenings with another BSN student and we were testing a boy in the second grade. As we were having him read the shapes in the chart we noticed he could barely make it past the first few lines of shapes and was squinting and leaning forward; after the full assessment it was very obvious he had vision problems and would get a referral to a clinic where he would likely be getting glasses. He was right at the age where having difficulty seeing would make it more difficult for him to learn and pay attention in class and ultimately affect his overall education, but because we were able to catch this problem early, his vision will be able to be corrected. A lot of times doing so many of these screenings for hearing, vision, blood pressure, and blood glucose can seem repetitive, especially if a majority of the kids are healthy, and I sometimes lose sight of the fact that these tests can catch major problems early on for these children.

A view from the camp we worked at Wednesday night

BSN Student, Molly Murphy, providing foot care to one of the farmworkers while two Nurse Practitioner students help assess

On Tuesday night we went to the same camp as Monday night, but this time we were prepared: we knew it was going to be raining again that night so we set up everything inside the screened in building so we didn’t have the delay of relocating all of our supplies and tables inside. It was a small, compact space we were working in but everyone stayed focus and we were able to move around each other without any major collisions. On Wednesday night we were at a new camp that was slightly smaller than the previous two nights so the pace was slow going at first. This came as no surprise to us, but it of course began raining around 30 minutes into seeing the men through the stations. This camp had no coverings to go under, but luckily there was no lightening so we knew we could stay and find a way to continue working. Some of us braved it in the rain with ponchos and umbrellas and others were set up in some collapsable tents where we tried to keep as many people dry as possible. Everything out at these camps is an unexpected adventure and this night was no different.

BSN Student, Jenny Choe, providing education on high blood sugar management with the help of a translator

When we are working with the men, we have amazing translators that are with us at each station as well as with each dental hygiene student, pharmacy student, and the student nurse practitioners as they complete their physicals. However, there aren’t always enough translators to be at every spot we want them so they often have to get relocated where they are most needed at the time, which is what happened to me when I was working at the blood glucose and hemoglobin station when our translator was needed at another location. At first I was worried to be without a translator to help explain to the patient what I was going to be doing and how to explain and educate them on their results, but as I have talked about previously, this group of people here is always so willing to help anyone.We almost immediately had one of the pharmacist students come over to us and offer help translating what she could as we had other nursing students go ask others for some key Spanish phrases to tell and ask the men. Even in times of chaos everyone here is able to pull together and make sure we accomplish the goals we came out here to do. We are seeing one final group of men at a camp tonight and then finishing charting and packing up at the elementary school in the morning. As I write this we have less than 24 hours left on this trip and I hope to enjoy every minute and help everyone I can!

 

 

Day 6 at Moultrie – Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

BSN Student, AshleyAnne James, checking hemoglobin and blood glucose while a pharmacy student helps comfort the child

Sunday night we arrived back in Moultrie, Georgia to our hotel that was comforting and familiar. They welcomed us back with dinner in the lobby and we got to meet and mingle with the new pharmacy students and dental hygiene students that would be joining us for our last week of work. Monday morning we were back at the Elementary School making sure we got off to a good start to help try to get the rest of the kids at the school seen by all of the stations this week. I was back at the kids’ favorite station, blood glucose and hemoglobin. Unlike the very first day where some kids didn’t know they would have to get their finger stuck, word of mouth had spread and they all knew that it was coming. Some kids had prepared themselves as they sat down with me, handed me their finger of choice, and looked away trying to focus on the stickers. Other kids had gotten so nervous that they were in tears before they even got to the table, thankfully there were not too many like that. Over the last week we helped learn and teach other some tips and tricks to make it easier for the kids such as having them count stickers when we did it or even holding their hand a certain way so they couldn’t see the blood. Even though this was the pharmacy students’ and dental hygiene students’ first day at the school and they were getting used to the flow, they were always so quick to lend a hand and help; whenever they would see a kid sitting with us starting to get nervous or cry they would immediately come over and comfort the kid and ask if there was anything they could do. Even in an unfamiliar environment, it’s so nice to see that everyone is so willing to help each other across our disciplines of work. All around the Elementary School the saying “teamwork makes the dream work” is proudly displayed on various posters and it definitely rings true for our team.

Dental Hygiene students setting up inside after escaping the storm

The storm at the camp approaching fast! Photo taken by NP Student, Geoffry Hall

After a little bit of rest back at the hotel, we headed out to a new camp to help provide services to the men. We drove through quite a few muddy roads but finally arrived and began setting up. After the first few men came through we noticed some dark clouds in the distance but were keeping our fingers crossed it would just pass by us. Every thing started getting busy which meant I normally just focus on my patient in front of me and not many other distractions around me, so I was startled when one of the faculties members came up to our station and told us to pack up because the storm was coming right for us and it looked bad.Thankfully, the night would not be a waste; there was a portion of the camp that had a building and screened in windows we could move to instead of heading home. We all crammed into this small space, setting up chairs and extra tables where we could and made do with what we were given. It was definitely a challenge working in a smaller space that got noisy and hot very quickly, but we were happy that we could help out everyone that came to see us. Not every thing goes according to plan when we are out working, but in the last week we learned so much about flexibility and cooperation and have seen in person how important it is. It really is a team effort these two weeks and I am so thankful to be on a team with everyone here.

 

Day 5 at Moultrie – Rained Out and Moving Out

BSN students getting ready for the last night of the first week (featuring stylish rain boots and fanny packs)

Lightening lighting up the sky as we begin to pack up our stations

Yesterday and today are the last two days of our first week and the time absolutely flew by!! Last night we once again lined up in our cars and headed out to a new camp to work with. We set up quickly on the main road leading into the camp so everything was flat and there weren’t too many bugs bothering us. The men who come to us are usually just coming off from the work in the fields and they were running a little late yesterday so we had extra time to all hang out. Over the week everyone in the disciplines has gotten close and become great friends so we no longer spend our free time with just a small group of people in our same specialty; instead, we used our free time to organize a quick soccer game for all of the specialties to play while others watched and cheered on their friends. After a few good soccer games, the workers started coming and and we all headed to our stations. I was at the blood glucose and hemoglobin station, which has become by favorite station to work at during the camps at night. All of the previous camps we had been to this week had only men, but there was a fair number of women who were working that came and saw us which was a new experience. Unfortunately, a few hours in we heard lightening cracking nearby and had no coverings for any of us so we had to pack up quickly and head back to the hotel. Normally when we are in class as students and we hear that we get to head home early everyone gets very excited, but there was a different tone when we were told we would be leaving early last night. Many of else felt sad and disappointed. We knew there was nothing we could do about the situation since the approaching lightening was a major safety concern, but it was hard for us to leave knowing there was a lot of men and women that we could not see or help out, but we hoped that we made an impact on those we did see.

BSN Student, Jessica Yang, testing blood glucose and hemoglobin on an Elementary Student while a pharmacy student helps keep her distracted and happy!

Today we woke up with our cars packed to go home and ready to head out to the last morning session at the Elementary School for the week. There were not too many kids to see and we got them all in and out quickly. I was working at the audiometry station testing the kids’ hearing with another BSN student which went smoothly since the kids knew there were no needles involved and they got to wear cool headphones instead!! We did not have to pack up too much since we would be back again on Monday but we made sure our stations were clean before getting into our cars and making the drive back up to Atlanta to be able to rest and refresh ourselves for a few days. I have had such an incredible experience this past week and feel like I’ve already learned and grown so much. Working in this unique setting has taught me so much about teamwork, flexibility, cooperation, and patience. I am so excited to be able to come back for one more week with people I’ve grown so close to and some new faces as well!

First week group with all of our BSN students, NP students, Pharmacy students, Dental Hygiene students, Physical Therapy students, and faculty!

Day 4 at Moultrie – Blood, Sweat & (no) Tears

The farmworker camp we worked at and set up our stations

Last night a little after 6:30pm we arrived at a new farm, covered head-to-toe in bug spray and ready to tackle whatever the night threw at us. Thankfully there was no rain on the radar for the night, but this camp definitely brought some new challenges and surprises; there were no coverings at the camp so we were outside with the grass coming up to our knees. Even though we were at a new location, the set up went smoothly since we have settled well into all of our roles throughout the different disciplines. I was placed at the blood glucose and hemoglobin stations where we were doing finger sticks on the men that came through. Doing the finger sticks on the farmworkers can sometimes be challenging because their fingers are often very callused making it harder to draw blood for both machines. We’ve all learned techniques from each other to make the process easy for us and the men so we don’t have to stick them again. Sometimes we have to squeeze and massage down their hands (a process some nurses have termed “milking” the arm) and holding their hands down at their side to let gravity help the blood flow. The men were able to go around and see all of the nursing stations, the nurse practitioners, physical therapy, and dental hygiene throughout the night and get the help and referrals they needed.

 

One of the nursing students getting a good stretch from a physical therapy student during a break!

This morning we went back to Cox Elementary School to continue our care and screening for the kids. Another one of the nursing students and I went upstairs and got ready at our station that was testing height, weight, and BMI. Working with the children at the station was pretty simple, all we had to do was weigh them and measure their height but it required a lot of charting so, like yesterday during the vision screening, we took a lot of turns charting and keeping the kids entertained who were waiting. In our room we were testing in we also had a physician from Guatemala who was sitting with the kids waiting teaching them about Zika virus. She used coloring books and pictures to explain to them what the virus is and how they can help prevent it for themselves and others. The Zika virus is becoming an increasingly difficult problem, especially here in rural South Georgia during the summer months, so teaching these kids from a young age is very crucial. Our hotel we are staying at is also very kindly serving all of us dinner tonight before we head out to our last night at a farmworker camp for the week. We head home for the weekend tomorrow afternoon but we’ll be back Sunday night to start our second week of service here!

Day 3 at Moultrie – Getting off on the Right Foot

Enjoying our delicious food prepared at the camp!

A little after 5:30pm yesterday evening, we once again loaded everyone in the program into our 30 car caravan to go back to the camp we helped at on Monday night. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident going back now that I had a night to see how everything was run and get used to the language barrier. Set up went smoother since we knew where everything went and it thankfully wasn’t raining or muddy (yet). All of the workers at the camp very graciously served our entire group a traditional Mexican dinner. The food was delicious and it felt so nice for them to welcome us into their lives in such a kind way.

Some of the housing facilities for the camp

Last night I was assigned to the foot care station where we cleaned the mens’ feet, cut their nails, moisturized and massaged their feet, and assessed for any infections or problems to refer them to the nurse practitioners and clinic. The foot care station is often the station that a lot of us nursing students dread, but it was set off to the side of the camp where we weren’t in the center of the hustle and bustle. A big part of the station involved educating the men on proper foot care and how to protect them from pesticide exposure in the field that can accumulate in their shoes, but since we got to sit with the men in a quieter environment, we could talk with them and connect and give them a bit of much needed relaxation and pampering. Unfortunately, a few hours into being at camp the clouds moved in and it began pouring so we had to close up the foot care station since it was outside. The other people working at the station and I ended up circulating and offering help at different stations as needed and tried to make the rest of the night as productive and smooth as possible.

 

BSN Student, Jessica Yang, hula hooping before the kids came in!

This morning we again returned to Cox Elementary School to help continue assessments and screenings on the kids in the summer school program. I was working at the vision testing station where we used picture charts to help test their vision for distance and also a book to check for color blindness. Gabrielle, one of the other BSN students, and I were working together and had a great flow with the kids as we would switch off having one of us filling out the kids’ charts as we tested their eyes and the other person pointing at the pictures and keeping the kids in the room entertained with stickers and funny glasses. I really enjoy starting the days working with the kids; they are so much fun to work with and they bring out a funny, silly side in everyone working and make the day so much more enjoyable. Tonight we are at a new camp working with a new group of men where more help, education, and learning can happen!

Day 2 at Moultrie – Feeling the Pressure

High fashion for nursing students at the first camp!

Yesterday we had our first night working with the farmworkers at their camps and it was quite an operation; everyone in the program throughout all of the disciplines lined up in their cars next to our hotel for a giant caravan drive to our first farm of the week! We all arrived together through muddy roads and began unloading and setting up numerous truckloads of supplies in our finest rain gear: ponchos resembling giant plastic bags and our scrub pants tucked nicely into our rain boots.

 

Sun goes down, head lamps go up!

Everyone was very excited setting up and preparing to meet and work with the men here. One of my favorite parts of this program is how we have so many different medical fields working together and learning from each other. Molly, one of the other nursing students, and I got to teach a group of the pharmacy students how to use the blood sugar and hemoglobin machines and then they were able to help us throughout the night when that station got busy. Even dental hygiene students helped the student nurse practitioners identify problems in the mens’ mouth. It was really great to see all disciplines finding ways to help each other and give the men we are assessing the best help they can get. Once all of the workers started filing in, I was definitely feeling the pressure… possibly because I was assigned to the blood pressure station… but also because I was facing the reality of trying to assess and educate these men when we didn’t have a language in common. I felt confident in my technical skills in taking blood pressures but that confidence was immediately lost when I tried to introduce myself, explain what I was doing, what their results were, and education on high blood pressure management when I only spoke English and they only spoke Spanish. Thankfully, like all students do in nursing school, I figured out a way to make it work. I learned a few phrases to help build some connection and realized how important a smile and a reassuring hand on the arm can be. We also have amazing translators with us that helped with some more complicated translations and education between us and the men. At around midnight we finally had everything packed up and drove our long line of cars back to the hotel.

 

After what only felt like 30 minutes of sleep, we were up again today and back at Cox Elementary School in the morning. Thankfully, almost all of our supplies were still set up from yesterday so it didn’t take too much work before we got to start seeing the kids. I was at the blood pressure station, but unlike last night I also had the added bonus of handing out stickers to the kids who came through. Many of the kids were very young and could only speak a little bit of english but we still made sure to have fun! They all got excited to get their blood pressure taken by a cuff that would “give their arm a big hug” before picking out the perfect sticker. I loved being able to joke around with the kids and show them how all of the equipment worked, which for them included squeezing the air pump of the blood pressure cuff until their hand got tired and tapping on my stethoscope as soon as I placed it in my ears. All of the kids there are so sweet and I’m so glad we can come and do our part to help them the next two weeks. Tonight we are back at the same camp we were at last night to continue our care for the rest of the men. It’ll be another muddy night but I know it will be worth it!

All smiles in the car ride back from the Elementary School!

Day 1 at Moultrie – Setting Up & Being Outsmarted by 4-year-olds

I’m Sarah Julius, a (soon-to-be) senior BSN student. I’m one of the students that’s going on the Farmworker Family Health Program trip in Moultrie, Georgia and I’ll be blogging my way through the next two weeks of my experience here! Following three hours of belting songs in the car, we arrived yesterday to the Ellenton Clinic in Moultrie, Georgia feeling excited but unsure of what the next two weeks would bring us. After signing in, we all crowded in a room together with other undergraduate nursing students, nurse practitioner students, pharmacy students, physical therapy students, and dental hygiene students. Although we initially tried to sit with our respective disciplines to seek out familiar faces, we were soon separated into groups with a student from each division so we could start our first activity: a scavenger hunt around the city of Moultrie where we saw the elementary school we would be working at, health care centers, and the local Walmart to buy something for the Farmworkers. Not only were we able to see the Moultrie environment and understand our surroundings, we were also able to meet new people in an interdisciplinary setting and learn about how they’ll be contributing different parts to this experience. We finished the night at a local Moultrie Fine Arts Center where everyone dressed up (the first and last time we will probably see each other in clothing other than scrubs) and Center was gracious enough to host us and serve us an amazing dinner.

BSN Students making a pit stop on the road trip down to Moultrie!

 

Our first morning and full day started early in the morning at Cox Elementary School where we transformed the gymnasium and surrounding classrooms into a makeshift clinic. We were all so excited to get everything started and begin seeing the kids that were there! Setting everything up took a few hours so the kids had to wait before they could come in. I would watch them as they came in and got to sit and play with toys and run and jump around as they were working with physical therapy. Unfortunately, the kids were not too happy when they got to where I was sitting with two other nursing students… the dreaded blood glucose station where they had to get their fingers stuck. We tried to still keep things fun, letting them pick their bandage design and stickers, but these 4-year-olds saw right through all of our tricks. Some kids just stared at me and sat on their hands (I would have done the same thing if I was them to be fair), but there were a few brave kids that got to show off their Minion bandages and Iron Man stickers to their friends later. After seeing a few groups of kids we cleaned up and one of the nearby churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, made everyone in the program a well-deserved lunch (consisting of a full spread of nachos, cookies, and fruit). Right now as I write this it’s a little after 3pm on the first full day; we have some downtime to relax and hangout before we leave caravan style with all of us packed in around 30 cars from the comfort of our hotel to our first farm to work with the farmworkers. It is my first time working in a setting like this and in an environment where I don’t speak the same language as my patients. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but I’m excited to see what challenges and experiences the rest of the night (and next two weeks) holds! It’s been raining all day so everything will be nice and muddy when we get there, thankfully we all brought our rain boots!

Setting up in the gymnasium of the Elementary School

BSN Students excited for the first day at the Elementary School!

Our wonderful TAs unloading our first truckload of supplies