Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My 8 Thai Sisters

This trip is my first time traveling internationally and I am in love. 

I owe most, if not all, of my incredible cultural and clinical learning experience to 8 amazing students. On the first day of clinical I was assigned to a village along with 2 of my fellow Family Nurse Practitioner classmates from the University of Michigan and 8 Thai Bachelor of Science in Nursing students from Suranaree University of Technology. These 8 Thai students were embarking on a 6-week journey: living, learning, and providing care all in the same community. They all live together under one roof which consists of one room, one bathroom, and one kitchen. The room is approximately a 12 foot square where all 8 of them bring out blankets and pillows to sleep at nighttime and during the day bring out a table and 8 chairs to study and work on their community projects. 

Through the short time I had the pleasure of knowing and working with these students I learned quickly they are all brilliant, passionate, kind-hearted and extremely hard working. I honestly do not think "extremely hard working" is even a grand enough phrase to emphasize their strong work ethic. For example, I made it a routine to ask the girls every morning how many hours of sleep they received. On a good morning they would answer about 4-5 hours; but more often than not they would respond with 2 hours. Whatever their answer was to this question, everyday they would be prepared, smiling and ready to get to work.

Working within the village has been a great learning opportunity. The quality of community nursing care provided was remarkable. I think the greatest aspect of community nursing in Thailand is the thorough screening and education on an individual, family, and community level. In the United States access to home care and community resources are available usually only after a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease or some sort of disability. In fact, the patient is usually the one that initiates the care through a clinic appointment or a hospital visit for a health concern. Throughout this experience, however, these 8 girls were aware of all the 200+ people within the community. They went to the houses, met with the patients, and talked with them if they had an official diagnosis or not.  They became familiar with who had diagnosed hypertension, who has had a stroke and required assistance with activities of daily living, who was an uncontrolled diabetic and needed educating about their diet and disease management, and who had a newborn and when their next vaccinations are required. 

During the community visits we made sure to provide education where needed and involve the families. On many occasions screening of the family members was completed after learning of excess stress or certain symptoms they were experiencing. This sometimes led to recommending the family members to follow up at the local clinic for high blood pressure, pain management or symptoms that required further evaluation. Many times we were able to see them later in the clinic to truly have continuity of care. I felt that during this process we were able to gain trust and build relationships with the people of the village and essentially became part of their community.

As my experience is coming to an end I would like to thank my 8 Thai sisters for their incredible patience, knowledge, and kindness. They have contributed more than they know to my Thailand experience and I am a better nurse and future family nurse practitioner because of them.

1 comment:

  1. So beautifully written. So fortunate of you to have had this experience. So proud of the woman/FNP you have become. Love and Hugs