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2019 Belize Blog: Successes & Challenges

Our first day of clinics in Arenal community! We saw a total of fifty-five patients ranging from newborns to elders 80+ years of age! Some patients from the Belizean community and those who came across the Guatemalan border had appointments that we distributed yesterday, others arrived without appointments seeking care. Appointment or not, no one was turned away. We set up five health stations and students conducted review of symptoms and physical assessments prior to being seen by the physician. We also had students assigned to triage and the pharmacy. The patients presented with a variety of symptoms and illnesses, for example coughs, colds, fevers, stomachaches, rashes, toothaches, infectious diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and pain.

At the end of the day we talked about things that went well and challenges we faced today. Some of our thoughts were….

  • It was challenging trying to remember everything we learned in health assessment and asking all of the relevant questions based on the presenting illness.
  • I was excited that I came up with the same correct diagnosis as the physician came up with for the patient!
  • Sometimes, medical complaints are lost in translation [from Spanish to English].
  • It was a challenging working with children who were either crying, were scared, and/or uncomfortable with the situation.
  • I was able to conduct a health assessment on a baby for the first time!
  • It was challenging to build trust with a patient so they are comfortable giving intimate details about a condition that may be embarrassing.
  • I identified a foreign object in a child’s ear canal and observed the removal of it!
  • Still working on speaking Spanish! I like to tell patients directly what I am doing during an exam, at times it is frustrating to use an interpreter to communicate my actions.
  • I palpated an enlarged lymph node on a patient for the very first time!
  • A challenge was all the bugs! We are working in a very different environment than I am used to….

We also talked about what worked well and what might be changed tomorrow in our clinic flow. We have a new game plan for tomorrow that we feel might work better to improve the efficiency of the clinic!

We had a bit of excitement when we lost power at our guest house this evening while hearing about nursing in Belize from a Public Health Nurse! Luckily we did not have to spend too long using our cell phone flashlights!!

We are excited to return to Arenal in the morning for another day providing health care and education to the community!