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.
I want you and ERmed to be on shift together one day, just for the battle of the clouds. Studying cloud dynamics seems like a fun research project…
lol. The intern I’ve been working with might as well be ERmedicine because his black cloud is legendary. But for the past 2 call days, mine has won over.
But cloud dynamics would be an interesting research project.
Question! What is a white cloud and a black cloud? Is that code for something…?
White clouds are people who tend to always have easy call days. Things usually go smoothly when they are on call, and the halls are even Q-word when they’re on. The admissions they get are usually simple and straight-forward, and no one crumps when they’re on call. There are no surprises in their procedures and their patient census stays pleasantly busy but not overwhelming.
Black clouds, on the other hand, are people like our friend ERmedicine whose workdays are always filled with disaster. These folks tend to have multiple codes, patients who decide to take a turn for the worst, or patients with really weird/crazy things going on. They get multiple bouncebacks, the frequent fliers everyone hates, and people who are just plain sick as stink.
More on Black clouds here.
From here on in, residents are now authorized to practice rapid sequence intubation on medical students only while in the simulation lab and only with attending supervision. We value the safety of our medical students. Somewhat.
Dr. Bartholomew Jay Baffled
Dean of Absurd Policies & Practices
Princeton-Medbloro Teaching Hospital
Dang it. I knew this would come back to haunt me. Sorry Dr. B. Next time I’ll give you a call when I want to knock ERmedicine out.
Well, no, I haven’t done much ER work. But I can tell you a few things about ER medicine that are just sort of common knowledge in the medical world. For specifics I’d ask blue-lights-and-tea, who is an A&E (the fancy British way of saying ER) doc in the UK, Cranquis, who is an Urgent Care doc (Urgent Care has a lot of similarities to ER work), or ERmedicine (who works in an ER but keeps his job title a secret other than to say he is not a doctor).
So here’s a few things to know about the ER:
1. It’s great for people who don’t mind not having continuity of care. You see the patient once, get ‘em stable, and either send them home or turn them over to another doc to admit them.
2. It can be very frustrating to deal with “frequent fliers” and people who come to the ER for non urgent problems (which make up about 50% of ER patient visits).
3. It’s not like TV. Not every patient who comes in is crashing and needing to be intubated or shocked. Sure, that stuff happens, but not like TV would have you to believe.
4. You have to be ok with seeing patients across the demographic spectrum. You’ll likely see kids, teenagers, adults, pregnant patients, and old folks. If you don’t like handling one of those groups of people, maybe ER isn’t for you.
5. You can sub-specialize. There are options to do fellowships in Trauma, Pediatric ER, Critical Care, Sports Medicine, or Toxicology.
As for where to go to college, it ultimately doesn’t matter much. Find a school with a decent reputation that you enjoy and that you think you can do well at, and go there. Find a place that has a good program for the major you intend to pick. Names don’t matter all that much. You can try to find undergrads that are affiliated with med schools if you want a tiny bit better chance of getting in, but it’s not a must. For more on that topic, check these two posts.
You can use the GenderAnalyzer to analyze if a blog is written by a man or a woman. The good news is they are 85% sure you are a woman. genderanalyzer.com
This is awesome. Here’s some results from the gender analyzer:
You win the Girl-bro award, friend.
Looks like it doesn’t quite have all the kinks worked out yet.
Hopefully everyone is done with finals now and can pay attention to the more important things in life, like hilarious posts from fellow students. You know, there are SO many things that can get in the way of studying. Sometimes important things come up and studying has to be put on hold.
You know, things like:
- Your Hunger Games book/blog/illegally downloaded video.
- Increasing proximity to spring break or graduation.
- Active Labor.
- Or Facebook.
And at other times your upcoming test gets so inside your head that everything else that happens in your life is somehow related to your test performance.
- the timing of your favorite tv show’s ending
- the next song on your playlist.
- your dreams
But whether you are prepared or you procrastinated, your hope is the same.