Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Pressure was on!

These past three weeks have been full of memorable experiences. First, we visited Nicaragua for a week to volunteer with VIDA, who provide free clinics for people in poor underserved communities. Then we visited Palo Verde National Park and went back to Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) to finish out our last week of intensive Spanish classes in San Jose. After 3 weeks at CRLA I learned what four years of Spanish in the US could not teach me, how to communicate.

Our first day with VIDA we learned about the Nicaraguan cultures and norms in the morning, and then we learned how to take vitals and make diagnoses based on the symptoms patients may present in the afternoon. I knew how to take temperature, heart rate, and etc., but I had a little trouble taking blood pressure. After practicing the day before, it was time for me to put everything I learned to the test. We drove into these rural communities, where we had our clinic in classroom like settings with only chairs.

When it was time to see our first patient I was so nervous because I was the first one on vitals in my groups and I didn’t want to screw it up. My group members proceeded with the medical history of the patient, asking her what brought her here to the clinic that day and what symptoms she presented. Of course the patient’s reason for coming to the clinic was because she was having problems with her blood pressure. The pressure was on, because I knew it really important for me to get an accurate measurement because the doctor was going to double check her pressure since that was the problem she presented. I measure her blood pressure first and got 130/100. When the doctor measured it she got 130/ 90. At I was nervous because one of my numbers was off by 10, but the doctor informed me that my measurement was good because sometime the blood pressure changes 10 units or so when it’s taken at different times. I was really proud of myself and my group was proud of me as well. Practice paid off because by the end of the clinic I became really good at taking vitals.

I learned so much from this experience. At first I didn’t see how we were really helping these people by only giving them medication. However, in the bigger scheme of things we cared and we did our best with the resources we had to help the people and the people were so grateful. It was such a great honor to be able to help others in needs. This experience reassured me of how much I want a career in the medicine and/or global health field. This experience showed me that a small group of caring people can make huge difference in the lives of people in need.

Le'Shauna Y. Phinazee

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