Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Talitha Jones
Along the paths of the chaotic local markets where various bargain matches are heard amongst the fortress of booths filled with colorful scarves, bracelets, and decorative carvings of elephants and Buddha heads you will see long rows separating the venders. These rows are lined with t-shirts galore, often with funny Cambodian sayings. One of my personal favorites is “same same but different.” In Cambodia same same means different so when English people say “same thing” Cambodians often think they mean different. You see the confusion. But however you say it “same same” or “different”, that pretty much sums up me on this trip. Being the only non-nursing student, I had very different prior medical knowledge, a different major, different expectations and as a result a very different overall experience. My name is Talitha and I am a Pre-med biology major crashing the nursing party and loving every minute!
I remember the first time I heard about the trip and was so excited about a medical mission study abroad trip opportunity at Belmont. I soon found out it was technically a nursing trip. But for anyone who knows me you know that wouldn’t stop me. So I decided to do a little inquiring as to whose arm I had to twist to get in on this trip. I found out it was Mrs. Susan Taplin. Luckily for me it wasn't much of a struggle. I was welcomed with open arms. Next thing I knew I was headed to Cambodia!
Having several friends in the nursing program I knew I was a little lacking in medical knowledge. The biology program at Belmont is incredible. I have learned so much in the science field but as to be expected of a biology major only in her second year, my abilities in actually physically administering medical care to patients was limited. I hadn’t had clinical exposure beyond shadowing, unlike the nursing students who work in the hospitals serving patients regularly. My goals in coming were to be exposed to a healthcare system in another country. I wanted opportunity to shadow doctors doing things I would never have the chance to see in the states. I wanted to observe physicians dealing with the extremes of a third world country. I was able to do all this and so much more. I have experienced so many blessings on this trip. One of the greatest is working with some of the best representatives of Belmont’s nursing program.
I have been completely blown away by the hearts, ability, talent and knowledge of every single student on this trip. I have learned so much about interacting with patients, proper aseptic technique and overall medical practice by observing them and asking endless questions that they answer with ease. I have learned so much from being in their presence and experiencing Cambodia along side them.
When I came, I never thought about how much my peers in a different major could teach me and how much I would gain from working in tandem with them. I also did not realize what a great experience it is for me to be surrounded by nurses. Like my time spent theses past few weeks, my days as a physician will too involve working as a team with nurses. It has been so beneficial learning how they communicate and how they do their work. Seeing things from their perspective will not only help me to fully appreciate the incredible amount of work and skill it takes to be a nurse but also help me know how to work with them as efficiently as possible. This will aid me when it comes time to develop nurse to doctor relationships in the future. I remember the words on a wipe-off board in the Honda Emergency Hospital so vividly. It read “Teamwork yeah!” The director of the hospital shared how important teamwork and learning with each other was not only in their hospital specifically but in all hospitals, to provide the best care for patients. Having this opportunity to serve with up and coming nurses has pointed me in the right direction and I am so appreciative of that and all they have taught me!
I have been so humbled and have seen my future in a whole new light. Serving with these students and teachers so willing to pour all they have into the people of Cambodia has reminded me of why I wanted to be in the medical field in the first place. With medical school fast approaching, I have become consumed with building the perfect resume and trying to decide on a specialty and how I can build my career to become a prestigious doctor. A career choice that was once built on my love of serving others had became all about me, me, me without even realizing it. This trip and the incredible servant hearts of all the students and faculty have allowed me to renew my focus. It does not matter whether you are a surgeon, nurse, charge nurse, resident, or on the janitorial staff; medical work is about allowing God to use you as a vehicle of service for his glory.
As this trip comes to a close I am beginning to reflect on all the amazing lessons I have learned medically, spiritually, about Cambodia, and about life in general. It is said that one of the best ways to learn is to take time to see things in a different perspective, by walking in their shoes. I am so thankful for the opportunity to see things from the nursing prospective and all the knowledge that has come from being a little different.
We woke up refreshed in a hotel that God planned for us. A place where we could sleep without waking up with nightmares about bugs crawling in our beds, a place where we felt cool because our rooms are air conditioned, and a place that we could truly feel comfortable.
I went for a run with Lacey, Emily, and Mrs. Taplin then it was time to go get ready for the day. We went to meet for breakfast and had a great devotion that talked about God’s faithfulness, so great.
They gave us an amazing break where we were able to refresh even more and read the “Survival of the Killing Fields” book and it brought me to tears like it does every time. It is so hard to read that book when we can picture what it would actually be like considering we are in the place where only 38 years ago such a horrific event occurred.
Then, it was time to go to the Handa Emergency Hospital. No, it is not the Honda cars, but instead a foundation that is dedicated to helping the war victims of Cambodia. Here is their website if you would like to learn more about this amazing foundation. http://www.thehandafoundation.org/
This hospital used to be called the Emergency Hospital because it was started by an Italian NGO that specialized in going to war stricken places and establishing an amazing trauma hospital and then continuing to do trauma surgery on a “sliding scale.” But, when the economic crisis started to hit Europe last year they said that they were giving the hospital three months to shut down. When the Handa foundation heard about this they knew that the amazing staff of nurses, doctors, and surgeons would have no work where they could use the amazing skills the Italian NGO taught them. And, most importantly the many trauma victims they see everyday would have nowhere to go and therefore no treatment. Although, the Khmer Rouge was overtaken 38 years ago, the land mines are still all over. During the rainy season land mines pop up in places they have never seen them before. So, the Handa Foundation took over considering they believe this is still a war stricken place; especially since they get at least 2 land mine victims every single week! They have opened a new medical clinic where people can come and see a doctor, and they still must pay using the “sliding scale.”
Both buildings are pristine and it was such a privilege to look at all of the new grounds. This hospital has one of the best standards in Cambodia, I was amazed by the organization, the cleanliness, the joy that came from the employees, and the amazing hearts of Char and her husband. Char is the nursing director and her husband is the director of the doctors.
Ever since Char and her husband got here they have wanted to enforce the importance of using a pain scale. So, when we came they thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach the doctors and nurses what a pain scale is and the importance of using one. In America, the pain scale is very important, something the nurses are mainly responsible for and it is usually the first question a nurse asks their patient. But, in Cambodia they rarely ever ask and when they do they write “Mild pain.” We taught about the 0-10 number scale that gives us an “objective” number to measure a “subjective” feeling that only the patient can feel. And, research shows that if you keep your patient from experiencing extreme pain they will heal faster.
After that we went to the bedsides of patients and performed pain assessments on the patients with the nurses. While we were mostly in the “A Ward” which is a ward with 50 beds for men, we also went into the “C Ward” which is for the women and children. Then, the “B Ward” is where the infectious disease patients stay. Most of the patients did not understand why we were asking about their pain and even more so, what the numbers even meant. The third man we asked had so much swelling it was uncomfortable to look at. As Mrs. Taplin looked at the leg, she told the nurse that she was pretty sure he had compartment syndrome and that she needed to call the Doctor right away. Minutes later the doctor walked into the room, looked at his leg and said, “Put him NPO we are moving him to the OR now before he loses his leg.”
It took me a second to take everything in… If, God didn’t place us in this very hospital to observe this very patient, he could have lost his leg in the next 15-30 minutes. It was so amazing to feel that God was using us to help this particular man at this exact moment. “For I know the plans I haveImage for you,” says the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
I believe there was no better representation of this verse while we were at the Handa Emergency Clinic and I am so thankful for this opportunity.
Then, we went back to the hotels for a quick break and at 6 we went to the hospital to put on a musical number for the patients to give them joy. I believe music is the universal language; although, they do not speak English it was amazing to watch them light up! We sang, dance, clapped, and laughed as we kept company with the patients and the visitor. I got to sing “Landslide” by the Dixie Chicks, which happens to be one of my favorite songs! While I sang, Lacey and Talitha made up a dance to the song. So much fun! J It was truly a great night.
Then, we went to the fellowship house and we were given the gift of being in company with a great couple, their son Chris, and the many children whom they foster while in Cambodia. They do this because America has a rule that makes it illegal to adopt from Cambodia because, sadly, many families sell their children to adoption agencies and many go into human sex trafficking. It was so much fun to see them loving on so many children and to enjoy some English speaking company. I can not wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Leighton Eby
I woke up still feeling exhausted from the long and hot bus ride home from siem reap the day before. At this point in the trip I am missing my family and friends back home and the constant change and uncertainty of the entire trip is really wearing on me. I'm learning to adapt quickly to whatever is thrown my way and to just go with the flow but that is definitely something that I struggle with. With all that being said about how I felt before we even left the hotel to what I am feeling now after the day is over is a complete 360 degree change. We started out the day by hopping onto tuk tuks to ride over to the hospital. Once we got there we split up into groups. Some helping with nursing check offs, some observing in the hospital and some catching up on journaling. I chose the group that was catching up on journaling since I hadn't even started the journals for community health.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Catherine McMullan
This whole trip I have been noticing "the little things", most of which have broken my heart. The personal items in store bathrooms indicating that people both work and live there. The cardboard lying on the street where people slept the night before. The pain in the eyes of children who have had to grow up too quickly. The angry, upward-thrust jaw of a prostitute who has had to defend herself over and over again. This country looks like paradise until you get close enough to see the reality for many Cambodian people. After seeing these things for a few days I was beginning to feel helpless and hopeless. However; today at the emergency hospital in Battambang, I noticed the power of some other "little things". Smiles, bubbles, play-doh and coloring books brought relief to suffering children. Some teaching about pain assessment and documentation will help nurses at the hospital to better control their patient's pain. Donating blood will help save the lives of some patients. All of these things reminded me of the positive influence a single person, who is willing to serve, can have on a group of people. With two hands and a willing heart we can provide relief. The power of the little things I saw today sparked a new passion in me. It helped me to realize that I am not powerless as one person. I can still inspire hope.
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of The Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail." Lamentations 21-22
We got up, packed our things, and ate a breakfast of fruit, bread, white rice, and hard boiled eggs with a spicy noodle dish. Then we boarded the Mekong Express bus to ride a 6 hour drive from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. The Mekong Express is titled “Limousine Bus Express.” There is a bus stewardess that wears a dressy uniform and serves us Wet-Ones packets and snacks in a box. The snack consists of two pastries and a bottle of water. The bus is wired for wifi, however on this trip the wifi wasn’t working. It is also considered a limousine because there is a bathroom on the bus. We set off driving down the main highway which happens to be the only two lane paved road that connects Siam Reap with Phnom Penh.
It was a great day. We woke up by going on a 3 mile run along the river in Cambodia with my professor and friends. We proceeded to get ready for the hospital’s annual nursing check offs. They do this to check up on the skills of the many nurses and doctors of the Hope hospital. It is something that Belmont provides for the hospital every single year. There were five stations: Nursing Process, Drug calculation, Drug procedure, Wound care and Diabetes teaching. Not only did they recite us the entire procedure, they also had to recite it to us in a language that is so hard for them to speak: English. Many ask why they have to learn this all in English considering most of the citizens speak Kamahi. It is because they do not have Cambodia nursing textbooks, they are either in English or French making the hospitals here either English or French speaking hospitals. It was so strange to be on the other end of things, because myself and the other 21 nursing students have felt the nervous feelings and butterflies while we do our check offs.
Mission to Cambodia 2013
from Lacey Luttrell
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1: 2-4
My day started with a lot of questions. I questioned why am I here, what am I doing, and God, what is your purpose? We have reached that point in the trip where everyone is tired, people are ready to see a change in the work we are doing here, we are all wondering what our purpose here is, and we are needing strength and positivity again. It is something that we have heard will happen during the trip, but never thought would actually happen. It did. I knew I wasn’t alone with my feelings. Even though I had all these questions, for some reason I felt like today would be different. It was. I had been praying all this time that God would open my heart and let me see what I need to see in Cambodia that will make all this time worthwhile.
"Smile! When you walk, smile,” he said. Niron, one of the individuals assisting us on this trip, was simply giving us a short message, and while motos and tuk tuks were zooming between us on the busy streets beside Sihanouk Hospital, neither the environment nor the simplicity of his message detracted from his meaning. Instead, both added to what he was really saying: these people are grateful to have you, and even if you do nothing but smile at them, you are making a difference. As Mrs. Taplin would say, you are planting a seed.
It is challenging to immerse oneself in a different country, especially a developing country. Discovering one’s purpose in this immersion is even more difficult; this is why Niron’s simple message to smile was so encouraging and set the stage for us to be bold and compassionate. Today was a big day for most of us, and while I could lead you through a chronological narrative of the day’s events, this would detract from my purpose in writing. I want, instead, to share tidbits of memories from the day. Small situations and stories that define the culture, the service we are providing, and the growth we are enduring.
We had the privilege of seeing one of the wonders of the world and the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat. Along with Angkor Wat there are a number of temples that were also built in the area. They were built in the 12th century by the Khmer King Suryavarman II.
The morning started at 4:45 am with a tuk tuk ride to Angkor Wat for sunrise. It was a beautiful sunrise over the reflecting pool with the 5 towers in the background. After sunrise we were able to walk through the temple taking in all the detailed wall carvings and complex architecture.
10 Straight Years of 100% first-time pass rate on certification exam by graduates of Belmont’s Master’s program in Nursing
The winter graduating class of Belmont University’s master’s program for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) and post-MSN certificate program has achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification examination for the 10th consecutive year. Twenty-six graduates achieved the distinction this year.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) administers the the advanced practice nursing examination for family nurse practitioners. More than a quarter million nurses have been certified by ANCC since 1990, and over 80,000 advanced practice nurses are currently certified by ANCC. ANCC certification is accepted by governing boards throughout the United States as well as insurers and the military. The program validates nurses’ skills, knowledge and abilities and empowers nurses within their professional sphere while contributing to better patient outcomes.