Sharing life, making a difference; weaving my experiences as a woman, a mother, and nurse.



2013-05-29 07.38.03  This beautiful painting graces my desk at home, and will now be a daily reminder of a new word I learned in Tagalog, and an old concept refreshed!  This painting illustrates Bayanihan and symbolizes an old and common tradition in the Philippines.  This tradition reflects volunteerism and team work – members of a community come together when a family needs to move to a different location – they move the whole house – literally!  Bamboo poles are used to create a structure that lifts the stilts of the house off the ground.  Men lift the bamboo poles and carry the house to the new location.  The family prepares a feast at the site of their new home and share with all who helped them move.

I like this tradition and this idea of community spirit, volunteerism, and working as a team.  The work of the medical team and citizens of the barangays (communities) represents this Bayanihan spirit!  Our trip to all locations included combined efforts  –  providing locations, setting up the site, registering patients, making signs, providing food for merienda time and lunch, carrying in water, rides to the site, and the list goes on.  But most importantly, giving of time to meet the health care needs of the Filipino people living there.

The trip to Tubahan provided a great pictorial of working together. The Philippine army provided protection and security, set-up tents, hauled our supplies up and down steep stairs in the hillside, extra doctors, nurses, and dentists for this day…and even a ride, our van broke down – and that’s another story! People in the community set-up a canteen for food, soldiers provided haircuts to little boys – there are many little boys running around with haircuts Army style!  A local physician volunteered his Saturday to see patients. Opening the doors of this school! And one of my favorites is a little boy, skinny yet strong that hauled water bottles down the hill…..

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Lapo Lapo, San Jose Batangas

Being immersed in a situation where I must trust other forms of communication than speaking in my own language has been a great learning experience for me!  I find myself being more engaged in “conversations”.  I watch facial expressions more intently and I believe I make more frequent eye contact.  This helps me know if the other person understands me, certainly lets them know if I understand them, and just truly adds to the experience – expressions add so much more to a conversation.

Our day at Lapo Lapo provided an opportunity to teach someone a skill without using my native English.  I needed to work in the pharmacy at this site, so I left my spot at the Vital Signs/Assessment station.  This meant I needed to teach some of the volunteers how to check someone’s BP.  I am picking up a few phrases and words in Tagalog, but certainly not enough to carry on an impromptu lesson.  Most Filipinos understand and speak at least some English, however, I wanted to make sure I gave clear instructions on how to assess someone’s blood pressure.  I am a firm believer in learning how to do something by doing – demonstrate and then have a return demonstration.  I of course always like to dig a little deeper, know the theories, get the finer details, but this is a really wonderful way to learn or teach a skill.  We were successful, and there is now a new group of ladies able to check BPs in Lapo Lapo… not just the day we held the clinic, but any time after this day!




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Treasure Hunt at Mercury Drug!

My kids sometimes roll their eyes at my ideas for fun, so taking a trip to the local pharmacy might not sound like fun!  But it is important to find out what wound supplies are available as I think of ideas for developing patient education.  So what better way to do that, than a field trip to Mercury Drug! This was very informative and surprising, from finding ‘Life in a Can’, transparent film, and hydrocolloids.  Also interesting was Jingle Bags – forgive me I am a nurse! So take a look and see if you find something interesting too! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage



Leadership in nursing is not limited to the unit or department in which you work.  There are no barriers that keep you from moving beyond your organization, community, state, and even nation.  Our own family, community, and nation often define us, however, there is a universal concern for health disparities and improvements in quality of life, which blurs the lines between these populations.  There is a code of ethics for nurses in our country, which includes an expectation to collaborate with health care workers in all settings, including international, to improve health care. There is also an International Code of Ethics that stresses that the need for nursing is universal.  Every nurse responds to this code in different ways depending on their passion, strengths, and commitment to our profession.  

As my practicum experience continues to develop and grow, the potential for leadership on an international level grows alongside it.  My project continues to focus and evolve into a collaborative effort to support nurses working in the Philippines.  My experiences also include the opportunity to collaborate with other leaders in wound care around the world. Working with the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP), European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) and the Pan Pacific Pressure Ulcer Forum provides yet another opportunity for me to become a patient advocate, a nurse activist, and show accountability as I work with professionals from these regions of the world.  

We have so many opportunities to reach out to nurses and other health care providers, which have been made easier with technology.  I can return home to my family and my day to day work and still be connected and collaborate with this committed medical team in the Philippines and make a difference in the lives of the Filipino people. ImageImageImageImageImage

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How is your commute?

My “commutes” to work this week have been vey interesting.  We start early every day.  My team and I are up and moving about every morning around 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. … depending on if you are an early riser or not!  We have breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and then fill our water bottles and load the van and on the road by 6:30 (hopefully).  There are 7 of us riding in a van fully packed with our medical and dental supplies and pharmacy.  In the Philippines your vehicle is either Aircon (has an air-conditioner) or not … we call ours conditioned air….meaning no air conditioner, we ride with windows wide open and use hand fans!  

Barangays (cities) are just coming to life when we head out, but even early there are the jeepneys and tricycles (these are bicycle taxis) filling up the roadways.  Once we get out into the countryside I see cacao trees, papaya farms, mango trees, and sugar cane growing by the roadside. Carabao, goats, chickens are in the fields, on the roadside and in yards.  It is a very lively countryside – so interesting and beautiful!  

Saturday may have been one of our most interesting rides as we were escorted by soldiers from the Philippine Army.  We were traveling into an area where rebels have been camping, but also the Philippine Army would like to be involved in improving life for those who live in the provinces in rural areas.  So they come as protectors and supporters of the medical clinic work.  Something new to add to my list of things I’ve done – I was escorted to work by the Army!

This week my commute has been on bumpy roads or weaving through overcrowded streets. The air is hot and sticky and we are packed into our van, but I have enjoyed watching the world outside my window, seeing everyday life in the Philippines.