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2019 Belize Blog: Expectations

Our last day of clinic was today! We were back in the Ontario community, where we saw a total of 47 patients. Some patients were those that received tickets yesterday, and others were walk-in’s. Most of the patients brought their family with them to be seen as well.

One of the differences we noticed in this community compared to the community of Arenal was that we saw more men in the clinic. Also, a lot of the kids and parents made appointments for later in the day because most of them had school to attend. More of the homes in Arenal cooked with stoves rather than fire and we saw more opportunities for work with Belmopan and San Ignacio nearby.

Today we talked about what our expectations for the trip were and what we are taking away from it. Some of the students shared their expectations and take-aways…

  • My assessment skills have really improved this week. I learned way more than I expected especially about pediatrics.
  • I was able to carry out a proper assessment while speaking Spanish.
  • I didn’t have any expectations coming in except that I was excited to learn about another country and common illnesses. I learned many new non pharmaceutical methods. I also learned more about health and wellness in pregnant women including what a normal range for blood pressure and pulse.
  • I thought it would be more difficult to conduct a history and assessment of a patient when we don’t speak the same language but it was easier than I thought
  • I expected there to be more serious ailments and underestimated the impact less severe ones could have on people’s daily lives in their current living conditions.
  • I expected less Spanish speaking people and was surprised how much Spanish translating we did. It was a pleasant surprise because I was able to take the lead on assessments and practice my Spanish.
  • I was expecting a surplus of opioid addiction like in America but was surprised to hear that it is not the case at all.
  • I was surprised that several of the patients wouldn’t take asthma meds or insulin because they were worried about becoming addicted.
  • I was surprised at the lack of emergency services like an ambulance.
  • I was surprised that we heard on multiple occasions that the number one thing health professionals would change/fix in their country is diet (especially less cokes and alcohol) rather than something like a better water system.
  • I came into this trip expecting the health assessment and explaining the patients case to the physician would be very challenging, however it ended up pushing me to work hard and I learned so much from my patients, the translators, and the doctors. I am able to take home with me better assessment skills, a broader Spanish knowledge, and more improved communication skills with patients.

Overall, this has been one of the best learning experiences we could have had for a study abroad trip! We have had the chance to learn and practice some of our medical Spanish, improved so much on our assessment skills, whitness how nursing and health care in another country compares to the United States, and continue to grow in our nursing career.

Having Drs. Carrie Bailey and Karen Lasater with us this week has been so helpful and they have taught us so much. Also, Dean Niederhauser has so many incredible skills and advice to share with us.

Tomorrow, we will be heading to Caye Caulker for some relaxation and snorkeling and then we head back for the States on Saturday!

–Kate Klein, BSN Student