Tag Archive for Jamaica

How Nursing School Showed Me a Difference World

Elizabeth Balogun, BSN Class of 2017, BUNDLE Scholar

Whenever I get the question “Why did you choose nursing school?”, I almost always respond with my usual, “You know, it just kind of happened.” That question takes me back a bit and makes me think about why I chose nursing and how I got here. Occasionally I even think back to an information session where we were presented with the wide varieties of undergraduate studies at Emory. I remember that I turned to my friend, and laughed at the idea of becoming a nurse. Although it often feels like nursing school was just something that just happened to me, I sure am glad that it happened. I am glad that I tagged along with my friend to a pre-nursing club “Meet the Juniors” event that got me thinking about nursing school. I am glad that this profession, that is rooted in caring, found me.On my very first day of classes in nursing school I hoped and prayed that I had made the right decision, and I have found over the course of my four semesters here that I am indeed in the right place. I did not know much about public or global health or the role of nurses in those settings until I got to nursing school. I did know, even before nursing school, that I would like to spend my career providing care in any way I could to anyone who needs it. As a scholar in the Building Nursing’s Diverse Leadership at Emory (BUNDLE) program I have learned about public health nursing, the need for cultural diversity and awareness in nursing and nursing care, and being a nurse leader and a force for change. Between my classes and my BUNDLE experience I found that I wanted to be a public or global health nurse. My alternative winter break trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica (which I was on the fence about going to) really confirmed that for me.Upon arrival in Montego Bay, we were on the road and ready to take on our first project a few hours after arriving. I had never been happier and filled with a greater sense of fulfillment while immensely exhausted as I was on this trip. We were gone from early in the morning to late at night setting up clinics in churches, teaching reproductive health, doing yoga with hearing impaired students and so much more. One of many profound moments for me was when a man who had visited our church clinic came back with a bunch of plantains for a student who had taken his blood pressure to show thanks for the care he received. Our clinic on that day simply offered blood pressure and glucose checks, BMI calculation, some health education, and a few incentives such as anti-fungal cream and reading glasses. These are things that do not seem like much to us in the United States, but a farmer in rural Jamaica valued these simple things so much that he was willing to give us his produce as a token of appreciation.This experience solidified my goal to become a public/global health nurse. It reminded me that there are people around the world, and even in the United States, who do not have the resources that we take for granted. Whenever I think back to the experience, I want to continue to strive toward the goal of sharing the skills and knowledge that I have been fortunate enough to gain through my nursing school experience and training. I want to use these skills to empower others around the world to take charge of their health. I hope to continue to learn and push myself as an individual and a nurse from my experiences with the diverse groups of people I encounter.

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Elizabeth Balogun is a BSN 2017 student and a BUNDLE scholar. She is from Lawrenceville, Georgia and hopes to become a public/global health nurse providing care for low resource and underserved populations around the world.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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! 

Jamaica- Alternative Winter Break Day 1

Jamaica, we have arrived! The alternative winter break Montego Bay Jamaica crew just had our first service day on the island. All 19 of us woke up early and excited to tour Cornwall Regional Hospital. After leaving our debriefing session tonight, I realized that I was not the only one inspired by this hospital. Where do we even start?

We were greeted this morning by the certified nurse administrators of the hospital which is a very highly regarded position. They were formal in their attire and their communication around the hospital. They were also very excited to see us. We separated into two groups to tour all TEN floors of the hospital. My group, led by Sister Brown (All of the CNA’s are referred to as sister because they are a part of the British Ministry of Health) started on the first floor and worked our way up. I must note that walking ten flights of stairs in an open air/outdoor hospital in the Jamaica sun is a but of struggle, but it was worth every minute.

After the tour, we split up into several groups and worked in the various clinicals. Some were in the emergency department following doctors or injection nurses, while others were observing the orthopedic and general med clinics. Tonight, we were all asked to say four things that we were impressed by… To give you a better impression of how we felt about it I have listed some below:

Caitlin Brown “I was impressed by the attitudes of all of the nurses. They work so well with the resources they have and it reminded me of why I want to be a nurse. They have this job because they want to help people- not for the paycheck or anything like that.”

Angel Padgett “I really like how respected the position of a nurse is. It seems like they run the hospital and that is the profession that people aspire to be in this region.”

Anat Vajima “The doctors and nurses work very well together. They also all take time with the patients. I didn’t see them rushing patients through the system. They explained things very well and if patients were having a hard time understanding, they would go to great lengths and take the time to help the patient.”

Overall, we were very impressed with the attitudes, interpersonal relationships and communication capabilities. We are looking forward to visiting orphanages tomorrow and presenting our health promotion modules.

Alternative Winter Breaks – Recap of Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica

The weeks following my Alternative Winter Break – Bahamas trip have been both challenging and rewarding. With the start of my final semester in Nursing School, I’ve begun a variety of different tasks and processes to complete my transition from “Student Nurse” to “BSN-prepared Registered Nurse”! There have been so many wonderful moments throughout the past years of Nursing School, but I can’t say I’m not incredibly excited to graduate and begin working. However, that process can still seem quite far away, especially when getting caught up in readings, assignments, papers, quizzes, and tests. I know I’m not alone, though, as many of my fellow Senior Year classmates are always able to provide the exact countdown to graduation – 96 days as of today! Overall, though, it’s the little things throughout the process that make the entire journey worthwhile – one of the most recent ones being the presentations of all the Alternative Winter Break students.

Over 30 Emory School of Nursing students (from juniors to nurses in Master’s programs) traveled to either Jamaica, the Bahamas, or the Dominican Republic in the early part of January. We reconvened just a short while ago to present our trip highlights and information taught (and most importantly – learned) to a variety of fellow students and faculty at the School of Nursing.

The Bahamas group focused on the variety of care that the nurses provide on the rural island of Eleuthera, and the way that these nurses act in a variety of roles that far surpasses the work I’ve ever done as a student nurse. We spent a great deal of time either in the clinics, working directly with these nurses, or at schools providing health talks and education on a variety of topics. The Bahamas group was also especially amazed by the level of community involvement, knowledge, and caring throughout this culture. We couldn’t overemphasize how welcomed, respected, and appreciated we felt throughout the entire trip.

The Dominican Republic group similarly felt this same sense of welcoming and appreciation while they were working with a variety of different patients in the DR. Many of these students were able to work in a maternity/labor & delivery clinic, where they were able to perform perinatal and neonatal assessments, as well as actually deliver some infants! They described how the nurses in this community were able to do so much with the limited resources that they had; a finding also similar in the Bahamas. Many of these students participated in a new infant care system in this clinic known as “Kangaroo Care” – a process in which there is almost constant skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby during the initial days after birth. This Kangaroo Care is able to keep a great deal of premature babies alive at this clinic, despite the fact that they do not have many technologically advanced tools and resources.

The Jamaica group had a variety of different experiences, some of them arguably the most challenging of all three groups. These students explained how the majority of the patients they interacted with were incredibly poor, needy, or abandoned. Much of the time was spent at the “Missionaries of the Poor” Catholic monastery near Kingston, where different missionary Brothers provided care to anyone who was in need. They described the importance of religion in this care, and how it was incorporated into their daily lives. These students also had the initially heartbreaking experience of working with many abandoned and disabled children through this program. The students expressed their initial feelings of overwhelming sadness, but soon learned to see the joy and resilience of these young children. One of the students emphasized how much happiness she found in these patients, despite their obvious hardships. Finally, two of the Missionary Brothers actually came from Jamaica to sing a song for us and promote a concert they are having in March to raise money for the Missionary, which is funded completely through donations.

Overall, it seemed quite clear that all of the students not only had an amazing experience and provided a great deal of teaching while abroad, but they also learned so incredibly much. Some of the common words throughout all three presentations included: “helping,” humbling,” and “enlightening.” We all expressed that all of the hard work before and during the trip was more than paid off whenever we received a smile, hug, or “thank you” from any of the patients we interacted with. We’ve all gained so much respect for these countries, and especially the work that the nurses and medical personnel do there. We’ve learned how dedication, perseverance, and motivation in any situation can enable such incredible things to be accomplished, especially in healthcare settings with such low resources. I’m sure that for many of us, including myself, these trips were some of the best highlights of our entire Student Nursing career.