My phone keeps eating the reblog, so I’m giving it a try this way.
Yay medical missions! I’ve never been to Haiti which is surprising because it’s like THE place people go for medical trips (or Guatemala. Don’t get me started on how there are like 150 other countries in the world who need help…anyway YAY helping people!)
Ok, let me go back in my brain to my
First off, is this gonna be a mobile clinic situation or a hospital situation? I’m going to assume mobile clinic since they’re more common, especially in Haiti.
With your current super-secret work experience you should be a lot more prepared than I was for my first. You already have a good understanding of triage and patient care that I didn’t have.
You can be of use in a ton of ways:
- counting/sorting drugs to be given out
- taking vitals and triaging, which would include mingling among the masses of people waiting to be seen and moving the sickest looking ones to the front.
- learning, if you haven’t already, injections, phlebotomy, and lab techniques if you have a lab component to your clinic
- Assisting in minor procedures or even doing them if you catch on quickly (as a high school student, I was the earwax guru on my first trip- you’d be amazed how many bugs I’ve pulled out of ears)
- monitoring patients who may be in the clinic for a long time getting IV fluids or antibiotics or such
- assisting in fitting eyeglasses if this will be a component of your trip
- teaching the patients who are waiting to be seen about various health topics. Find out what problems are common in the area you will be visiting and prepare a few short 10 minute talks or skits on an elementary level. You will need the cooperation of a translator for this. You can use the translator as a narrator to tell a story that you (and others) will act out to help educate the people there on treatment and prevention of common problems. Have hilarious props and visual aids.
- keeping kids occupied. Every trip I’ve been on with mobile clinics had designated childcare folks to help keep kids from wreaking havoc on the clinic. You can educate them too with skits or puppets (who doesn’t love puppets) or simple crafts. We actually gave out kids toothbrushes on one trip and taught kids a tooth brushing song to help them learn oral hygiene.
- shadowing docs and taking patient histories
- if you don’t have anything to do, ask everyone if they need assistance. Always ask if you can assist on procedures too.
Things you should expect:
- total chaos and lack of organization
- heat, sweat, smells, and exhaustion
- you will see lots of problems your clinic is not equipped to handle
- large masses of people, some of whom you may have to turn away
- the necessity of changing plans frequently. Be fluid and go with the flow.
- at least 1 flat tire
- a mix of emotions ranging from culture shock, sadness about the state of poverty some of your patients will be in, joy from getting to help people, frustration with the language barrier, exhaustion, and excitement.
Things you should remember:
- your patients overseas deserve to be treated with the same respect as your patients back home
- cultural differences may get in the way of your perfect plan for fixing the nation. This is totally okay.
- local people are not Instagram selfie props
- eat the unidentifiable food. It is delicious.
- this is not a vacation. Work hard, but enjoy yourself too.