Excitement for clinical work in Haiti

Ready for takeoff at the airport.

By Samantha Stacks

Bonjour from Haiti!

18 Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing MSN students and faculty set off for Santo, Haiti on June 17th, 2018. Fortunately for us, perhaps unfortunately for you readers, we had no issues of consequence during our travel. All of us arrived safely with all of our luggage (Shout out to Delta’s ultra-silver-premium-five star-two thumbs up-members only program* for letting us check EIGHTEEN BAGS under one person’s name.)

We flew into Port-au-Prince with spectacular views of the island of Hispaniola greeting us. The sun was shining bright upon us as we left the airport which resulted in nearly instantaneous, profuse sweating. Temps for the week are predicted to be around 95°F and above, with lots of humidity; we were informed that it’s not usually this hot so early in the year, I guess we are just very lucky!

A view of Haiti from the air.

This year’s MSN group is the largest Santo, Haiti trip to date! We have nurse practitoners representing the many specialties that Emory offers including family, adult gerontology, pediatric primary care, emergency nurse practitioners, and a midwifery student. We also have two RN to BSN students who will be in charge of the pharmacy and triage. We are all looking forward to learning and collaborating with each other to meet the needs of our patient population.

After a short bus ride where we were able to take in the sights and smells of some of the neighborhoods (there was some delicious smelling street food that I’m dying to get a taste of), we arrived at Foundation for Peace, our home base for the trip. The gracious staff welcomed us, briefed us, and fed us (fried plantains, chicken and HOT sauce, beets, and rigatoni, yum!) and we later prepped for our first day of clinic by sorting through all the supplies we would be using.

On the eve of our first clinical day, I think we all felt a little apprehensive for what was to come. Hardly any of us had practiced nursing in a low resource setting like this before and many of the visits tomorrow would be about conditions not seen in the US. We were told to expect 200+ patients and almost no diagnostic tools; we would be relying a lot upon our own clinical judgment to educate and treat to the best of our abilities. It was certainly daunting but I think we also felt a mounting excitement for the impending challenge ahead. Either that or we were excited about the prospect of the next morning’s delicious Haitian coffee we’ve heard so much about (probably a combination of both)!

*Full disclosure, this is not an actual Delta program, nor is this post sponsored by Delta Airlines, but we did appreciate the customer service!

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