Rachel's Week in the Outpatient Department at LGH
Spending 3 days in the OPD allowed me the opportunity to see many patient presentations- an experience similar to the Canadian ER though vastly different in terms of triage, treatment, and resources. It felt as though I saw anything and everything in a day, though each shift seemed to bring new lessons of trauma, abuse, violence, and suffering. Of course, there was positive change as well; a couple wishing to receive reproductive counselling, a mother with her sick child, or seeing granddaughters with their grandmothers. The simple shift from one patient to another was astounding and taught me a most certain sense of adaptability. In working with the Medical Officers, I saw it- they are there to do their jobs and to treat each patient as best as they can, though that adaptability is much easier said than done. Thirty minutes spent identifying a passed mother and her baby is intertwined with the concerns and questions of the other patients around you. There is never enough time, nor will there ever be. That's what we see at home and it's what we see here in Zambia. How can we best serve patients under such strict time constraints, completely outnumbered and short staffed? It's a question to be answered in both health systems. In realizing this, I was able to enjoy my time spent with the knowledgeable Medical Officers in order to treat each opportunity as a valuable experience, whether it be devastating or surprising. Being in Zambia, I feel that I have experienced so much yet have barely scratched the surface of what it means to be a nurse here. In contrasting my experience in the OPD with our Malnutrition Screening event, there were times of sadness in seeing patients who had little hope of surviving. There was also a feeling of positivity and hope after finding out that one of the patients that we referred from the screening clinic went to the Save A Life Centre to receive help the very next day. To me, knowing that our initiative made a difference for one patient was more than enough to make it worth it.
It's a genuine pleasure, working as a nurse. To find fulfilment in each day that I spent caring for patients is an absolute blessing that I wouldn't trade for the world. How awesome is it that I can say that? I have certainly found my passion and carry such pride in knowing that my fellow students represent the same. I will surely miss all those whom I have come to know throughout this trip though will carry the many lessons learned in Zambia for years to come.
Thank you for joining us on our amazing adventure! I miss you all!
Jackie and I will be continuing our travels through to Cape Town and to London before travelling throughout Europe for a few weeks. I can't wait to see you all upon my return to Canada!