As mentioned in my previous posts, this summer I was fortunate enough to go on a medical mission trip with a bunch of my classmates and some of my professors to the Dominican Republic. It was SUCH an amazing trip and definitely not an experience I’ll ever forget. For anyone who’s ever thought about doing medical mission work – I’d HIGHLY suggest it. I’m hoping to be able to go again either next year or the year after that if possible!
Our whole goal for the trip was to be able to set up and provide “clinics” for the poorer communities in and around Piedra Blanca. After months of fundraising and gathering/buying supplies, we were finally ready! We left early in the morning on Sunday, June 1st (when I say early – it was a 5:45am flight!) and arrived in Santo Domingo after a layover to Atlanta at around 1pm. We were there for 10 days; somehow those 10 days were simultaneously the longest and shortest days ever!
We had five clinic days in which we, the nursing students, got to act as nurses with the supervision of the nursing team leaders. We assessed patients, diagnosed them, and then prescribed them medicine to hopefully help their ailments. We did a lot of teaching as well, especially on cleanliness and hygiene. I’d say the ailments we saw the most were “flu-like symptoms” – or gripe, as known to them – which were cough and runny nose (essentially a cold), and parasites. A couple of patients had staph infections, there were plenty of patients with decaying teeth, patients with sore and achy muscles, those who needed glasses (we set them up with readers), fungal infections, yeast infections, and many who came just because they wanted to stock up on vitamins for themselves and their families. One of my patients we actually advised to go to a hospital right away because she had tachycardia ranging from 140 bpm and up with a fever of 102.
We also had an opportunity while there to visit a local hospital, talk to local nursing students (they were so young!! The youngest was 16), visit an orphanage/childcare center for neurologically disabled children, go shopping, experience a local church service, visit the Colonial City, and suntan on the beach (twice!).
I really think that being able to be in control of assessing the patients and diagnosing them was extremely beneficial to my learning and my confidence as a soon-to-be nurse. I’m really hoping that this experience will be invaluable once I begin my preceptorship in the fall and especially once I graduate and begin a nurse residency.
I could go on and on and on about being in the DR and the various experiences I had…but somehow there aren’t even words for it. So I shall conclude this post with pictures – after all, who doesn’t love pictures? 😉