In my scrubs again! Since moving to Honduras, I have wanted to get involved in or volunteer in some sort of medical setting, to practice that genre of Spanish and because I wanted to do something nursing related. In January, I went with my teacher to one of her doctor’s appointments and her doctor, also the owner of the clinic, invited me to come and volunteer. He said I could come as often as I liked to assist with surgeries and help the nurses in the hospital part of the practice.
At this point, I felt my Spanish was sufficient enough to help out so I began going in February. It has been so much fun and so interesting! I can only go one day a week for 3-4 hours because of my schedule but the time I’ve spent there has been great! I didn’t realize how much I missed running around like crazy, getting this or that medicine, programming IV machines, and taking vitals, among other things.
Katy, another student at the time, went with me for the first two times. Our first day, we got to watch a minor surgery of a gentleman whose thumb had got caught in a machine. I won’t go into detail, but it was very interesting to watch! My third time I observed another surgery, the laparoscopic removal of a gall bladder. The cameras they used were amazing! There were in and out in 24 minutes.
The other times I’m there, I give medications, take vitals, bathe patients, really anything I can help with. In doing so, I have found a big difference in nursing in the states compared to here, which might seem obvious. I knew it would be different but after being trained for 4 years one way, the differences really jumped out.
For instance, the nurse was preparing a medication I had never heard of and I was asking her questions. I asked her about the side effects, how to give it, and compatibility with other medications. She did not know. She told me she just reads the orders and gives the medications (side note: orders in doctors’ handwriting and in Spanish are definitely a struggle to read!). This completely surprised me. I wanted to know what I was giving, what it was for, and what side effects I needed to watch out for. But, that is not as important for nursing here because the doctors manage it.
The next day in class I asked my teacher about the responsibility of doctors and nurses, because I was really confused. She told me that the doctors are completely responsible for patient care. The nurses answer directly to the doctors. My teacher also mentioned that nurses don’t necessarily need to go through training to be a nurse. If someone follows and trains with a doctor long enough, he or she can become a nurse. In at least one nursing school that I know of, doctors teach the nurses. Nurses here have much less autonomy and patient care is highly managed by doctors. All this was just different to me.
Being at the clinic has shown me what nursing is like here and also that medical Spanish is a whole other language. Out come the flashcards for Spanish medical vocabulary. I am going to be teaching this, so there is still much I have to learn in that area. This is somewhat intimidating, but has become my goal to work towards until we begin receiving girls.
I’m so thankful to be able to do something I love in this place that I love. ❤