Here I am four days into my first nursing mission, and it is funny to think how far I have already come in the past few days. I was VERY nervous for this trip, which is strange because it is not my first time traveling, and I have even been to Central America before. I was more anxious to participate in this nursing mission experience than any of my military training (Basic Training, Air Assault School, training in El Salvador, Marathons, etc.), and before I arrived I could not place why I was feeling such strong feelings.
After some reflection, I realized that I was worried that I would not be good enough, not know enough, and not be able to help the people here in the way that I really wished I could. As a new nurse, I still have insecurities about my knowledge, experience, and lack of clinical practice. HOWEVER, lucky for me I am joined in this experience with three other wonderful nurses.I am so grateful for all of the support that JP, Sandie, and Sandy have provided during this trip. Within the first day of meeting everyone it was hard to even remember why I felt so nervous.This experience has a strange sensation of moving by so fast, and yet, I feel like I have been here for a very long time.
Although our first few clinic days started off slow (Easter week is a National holiday), some patients came in and we were able to provide care. I really appreciated how much we all worked as a team and how each nurse supported the other. JP really harped on how important education is for the success and future of the community; we should see each interaction as an opportunity to teach, not only about the presenting problem, but about general health promotion. Education and prevention is the key to health in this community, at home, and all over the world. In addition to providing care for bacterial infections, fungal infections, etc, we provided education on proper hydration, body mechanics, nutrition, and much more. I was so touched by people´s gratitude for us being here and the services we provided. The people have made me feel so welcome, despite my broken Spanish and at times quiet demeanor. It is hard to explain how wonderful, passionate, and strong the people of this community are.
As I was walking down the hill from the clinic yesterday,I saw a small girl playing with a broom and sweeping a tree. Although this image may seem silly or insignificant; seeing this made me smile. I remember seeing a photo of me, at around the same age doing the exact same thing. I feel so grateful for the fortunate circumstances that I was raised in, it really just seems like luck for being born into the life I was brought up in, not having to worry about food, or if I could go to the doctors, or if I could afford to go to High School. This experience has significantly contributed to my passion for the career that I am choosing to enter. I am so excited to start working as an Army Nurse next month, and to finally gain the clinical experience, skill and knowledge that I so strongly crave. This experience has truly been both life changing and career changing. I feel a strong pull to work in underserved communities, whether they are at home or abroad. I know that I will return to Central America as a nurse; next time with experience under my belt, and a lot better Spanish. Until then, I will remember this truly amazing experience, and the wonderful people that I have met and learned from along the way