Friday, November 15, 2013

Nursing Across the World

During our time in Thailand,we have been working hand in hand with nursing students from Suranaree University of Technology (SUT).  Not only have these girls worked so hard and taught us so much over the past weeks, but they have also been instrumental in our understanding of the differences in nursing education around the world.

For starters, we have learned that nurses in Thailand have a different scope of practice than we do in the United States.  For example, as an undergraduate prepared nurse, one can prescribe some medications, suture, and function as a midwife.  We learned that each student from SUT had currently delivered 6-7 babies as a part of their clinical time! At the clinics in which we have been working, there is no doctor on site daily.  The clinic is run by assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners.  This different scope of practice was eye opening.

Currently, the Thai nursing students are completing their community health clinical rotation and are in the final year of their undergraduate nursing program.  This rotation requires them to immerse themselves in the community, uncover current health disparities, and create community interventions that will be beneficial to the people in the village.  While this is similar to the community health nursing class taken by all undergraduates at the University of Michigan, there are some stark differences.

The students here in Thailand must LIVE in the village they aim to serve for the entire 4 weeks of their community clinical rotation. They live in a small, two room cabin that is on the property of the health clinic. The rooms have no air conditioning and have only enough room for the students' sleeping bags.  Their program is intensive and requires them to interview 80-100 families from the community while also seeing patients in the clinic.  During home visits, students enter community members' homes, greeted with open arms, to conduct very comprehensive surveys including: demographic information, thorough health histories, and comprehensive physical exams.  After gathering community information, the data is analyzed using online systems, and a presentation with results of significant health disparities for community members is compiled.  At the open presentation, people from the community are invited to attend and the health priorities of the village members are determined in order to decide what interventions (also implemented by the students) will be most beneficial.  Furthermore, we noticed the students working 10-14 hour days seven days a week. The students opened the clinic as early as 6:00am and finished their last home visits as late as 9:00pm.

This intensity and passion put forth by the nursing students is remarkable.  The dedication that they have not only to their nursing program, but also to enhancing the well being of a community population is very clear.  Not one student complains, not one student seems disengaged.  Each student participates as an equal member and furthermore, each student makes an unbelievable effort to make us feel involved, understood, and respected. Taking some of these lessons back to our own life as we complete our Nurse Practitioner programs is integral for success.  In Thailand, we saw a willingness by the students to be their best and to put forward their best efforts.  These students understand that hard work, passion, and dedication is not just a means to an end, but a way to live life.  From these girls, we learned the importance of giving the world the best.  Heading into our last semester, and future practice, we hope to bring the continual passion to provide, with open minds, dedication, and humble hearts, to those that we serve!

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