Compare and Contrast.... Lions, tigers, elephants and bears... oh my!

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santiago chile.JPGAnother nursing adventure begins with a trip to Chile.  

I am again supervising a group of undergraduate nursing students on a global heatlh experience. This year we have chosen Chile. I am traveling with 7 nursing students and one interpreter/liaison. We have a few students who have some Spanish proficiency so that is helpful. Learning to speak Spanish is on my bucket list so maybe I will get closer to that goal after this trip. I titled this entry compare and contrast because of some of the differences in this trip compared to previous trips.  

On this excursion we will be working at a hospital in Talca on an inpatient psych unit. This will be an incredible experience for the students, but the community nurse in me wants them to also see the aspects of community health and public health so they will be doing additional assignments related to some of these areas. We are not bringing large boxes of supplies to deliver to clinics or orphanages and the experience of dealing with large boxes, transportation and airline travel has been avoided on this trip. 

We had an uneventful flight. I was surprised that when I arrived at Logan that many of the students had already checked in and were patiently awaiting the arrival of the whole group.   Only one parent came to Logan, which surprised me at first, but then I realized that I am traveling with a very travel savvy group. I remember the large group that has met in Logan in the past with some tears and hugs and nervous good byes. As we navigated the airport and subsequent transfer at Miami I was impressed with the maturity of this group.
 
We arrived at Santiago very early this morning and I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and efficiency of the airport. We transferred to our hotel, which is a complex of three large towers comprised of small apartments in the Centro section of  Santiago.  We were unable to check in this early so after dropping off our bags we proceeded to explore the city a bit. Most of us are functioning on few hours of sleep on the plane but we have no choice but to keep our feet moving.  
 
My surprise this trip was that in my 3 trips to Africa I never saw an elephant, giraffe or tiger. Well today I saw that and much more. We spent a few hours at Parque Metropolitan de Santiago. A great day. We had some lunch at SchopDogs, which featured a mix of Chilean and slightly German fare. Lots of options for food and shopping, which is a contrast to the poverty stricken landscape of Ghana that greeted me every day on previous trips.
 
My goal is to work on helping the students to see the aspects of health even in a beautiful country like Chile. They have assignments to work on and I am pointing out areas of interest like air pollution, water and land pollution (in some areas), but also the cleanliness of other areas and the lack of obesity of very obvious chronic diseases.
 
We did recall the words of Dr. Deidra Murphy who reminded us to look at the physical barriers that exist for people with disabilities and we did see some of that today at the zoo and other areas. The traffic is busy, but not the chaos of Accra and cars and pedestrians seem to obey the signs and crosswalk signals. 
 
This is just the first day of our journey but already I am a bit less worried about survival and concentrating more on providing a great experience for these students.  

I hope the students will also be able to give you a glimpse of their view of this experience. Please check back and read more... 
 

View a photo gallery from the trip.

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4 Comments

It sounds like the trip is off to an excellent start with great students and great leadership. We are looking forward to hearing more about the physical barriers, which limits access for people with and without disabilities! I hope as Dr. King has you observing aspects of health you are thinking about the broad definition of health we talked about before you went!
As Garrison Keller says "Be Well, Do Good Work, and Keep in Touch"
Happy Trails,
Dr. Murphy

What a great opportunity to think about communities! Compare and contrast health related issues in Chile with your Merrimack Valley communities. Are there differences in community values? What are some of the health concerns? What can you learn from your windshield survey? Think about those functional health patterns; this is a huge opportunity to learn about communities, access, problems and prospects! Take advantage! Keep wrting!

Think about communities. What are you seeing in Chile when compared to your Merrimac Valley communities. What are the health concerns? Values? What can you learn from your windshield survey? Think about access, economics and education! Consider those functional health patterns as you evaluate the community. What are the problems and prospects?

One of the assignments that the students are doing this week is a windshield survey ( but I am calling it the "blister on the foot survey"due to our walking tours). We have had some lively discussions about the similarities and differences comparing Talca Chile to Lowell and other urban communities. We have 3 teams of 2-3 students completing the survey and we plan on having a discussion about what we saw and how it would impact health of a community.
In addition to that assignment the students are assigned a topic to write a majory paper on and comparing US health care issue and the same issue in Chile. Some of the examples are Mental Health, Maternal Child, Occupational and Environmental health, Geriatric health, Infectious Diseases, Chronic Diseases and End of Life/Palliative care/oncology.
We hope to have a poster about these topics at the Community Engagement Symposium in April and also at another Nursing event TBA.
Thanks for your support.

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This page contains a single entry by King, Valerie L published on January 3, 2013 5:23 PM.

We're chilly in Chile thanks to our sunburns is the next entry in this blog.

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