"Pride and the American Nurse"

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By Valerie King

Today is my first day at Margret Marquat Hospital.  For those that know me this is not my area of expertise.  I am a community based nurse. I am much more comfortable going from hut to hut than to try to serve a purpose in an acute care hospital.  I had hinted at my desire to stay at the outpatient health center but Maura thought my assessment of the nursing care at the hospital would be helpful. 

We have been asked by the new medical director, Dr. Lucy, to do an evaluation of our experience at the hospital.  She wants to make some changes so our input is solicited.  We are treated very kindly by the nurses but there are significant deficiencies in the nursing care that goes against everything that we have been taught as an American Nurse.  The contents of our report are too lengthy to go into in this Blog but suffice to say patient safety, infection control and issues related to competent and compassionate nursing care were some of our biggest observations. 

Later on this evening I created with Maura and the students, a 4 page document that we will use to present our findings to Dr. Lucy.  I am reminded of the comments of my teacher and friend Dr. Geoff McEnany-Phillips when he taught me about evaluation.  It is important to be truthful but we have to be mindful of the stakeholders in this situation and try to present our findings in a thoughtful and professional manner. We create the document over a bottle of wine and with very insightful comments from the students.  I am not sure how Dr. Lucy will use the information but we felt it was our duty to be advocates for the patient but also to help promote professional development of the nurses in Ghana.

To help with our goal of professional development I gave a 2 hour lecture today at the Kpando Health Center on a few topics.  I presented a lecture on the assessment of the geriatric patient and also diabetes mellitus.  The audience of mostly nurses but some other staff seemed to be very much engaged with the lecture.  I had to slow my rate of talking and to try to use appropriate and understandable terminology.  I tried to lose my New England accent. 

The time flew by and I was encouraged by the thoughtful questions that were asked by the participants.  I have truly come to respect these Ghanaian nurses.  They work with such limited resources but have such potential for improved care if only they are given the education.   Throughout my lecture I keep repeating that they have incredible power as nurses to make a difference in their patientís lives.  I think the nurses could play a larger role in the care of the patients but am limited in their knowledge and sense of responsibility when it comes to patient outcomes.  I pretty much told them that they are much more important than the doctors (my apologies to my physician colleagues).  I think there is a vast difference in the way that Ghanaian nurses and American nurses are educated based on my observations.  

I would like to see these nurses claim their autonomy and professionalism.  Change comes slowly.  I think having the UML nurses work with them opens the door to comparisons, questions and emulation of behaviors.  We have witnessed an obvious change in the demeanor of the patients when the UML nurses address them with respect, touch them and provide the level of compassionate care that is the trademark of the American nurse. I have such personal pride in the accomplishments of the student nurses from UML.  We have had many thoughtful conversations at night about the comparisons of the two countries and their ideas for improvement.  I am proud to be a graduate of UML and I am equally proud to be a nurse educator who will have a role in creating the future American nurses.  I will end now on that positive note.  There are still many more stories to tell but again I am burning the midnight oil and tomorrow is another busy day. 


Val: Thanks so much for sharing your blog entries. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading of your adventures and activities that have kept you so very busy these past 2 weeks. Nursing at UMass Lowell has so much to be proud of with your willingness to return to Ghana and serve as the Faculty Advisor to the 10 traveling nursing students. Wishing you and all the students a continued wonderful experience and a safe trip home, Mama Val! Karen

Peggy said:

Val! So impressed with the work that you have accomplished thus far! The joy and energy you present (along with a few other emotions)clearly demonstrates your committment to this project. You need to submit this blog for publication when you return!! It's fantastic. Looking forward to future entries. I tried viewing before, but could not. Thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Safe return! Peggy

Val's Mum said:

Continue with your wonderful work,dear Val... and know that ourprayers and thoufhts are with you , your "girls" and the work you do unselfishly. I am just one proud MUM!!!! Safe return and God Bless . bb

Hi, hope you are all well. Thanks for the blogs very interesting and helps fill in the wandering minds as to what you are all doing. You are all doing great work, you should be proud.

Love ya Steph we all miss you and can't wait till you are all home

Kellie Carter said:

Val, So much good has come from conversations over a bottle of wine!! It sounds like you and the others are getting as much as you are giving, albeit in different forms! I hope you all realize the long-lasting impact you are making, the goodwill you are spreading on the US's behalf and what wonderful role models you are for those of us back home!

Michele Bettinelli said:


Checking this site and the student blog daily and noticed that you haven't been posting. Hoping that it is because you are having internet
connection issues. I am praying for all of you and your amazing mission.

See you soon.

Internet access was unavailable but I have posted them all now. Next step is to add some photos. Keep checking back

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This page contains a single entry by Keough, Elaine published on January 7, 2010 12:07 PM.

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