drnursemomme

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


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Feeding the children…

Hungry children, a concern of all countries around the world.  This is a serious problem and can have a tremendous impact on society as a whole, but certainly on the individual lives that are affected by this unmet need for food and adequate nutrition.  Current statistics indicate that nearly half of all deaths in children 5 years and under, around the world, is attributed to malnutrition.  This is a widespread concern in parts of Asia and Africa.  Malnutrition also contributes to a greater risk of infection in children, which can lead to death or a significant delay in recovery.  Stunting is one other negative and unfortunate outcome of malnutrition.  Poor nutrition within the first 1000 days of a child’s life is associated with stunted growth, which is associated with diminished cognitive capacity and is irreversible.

The impact and significance of malnutrition is compelling.  As I visit the Philippines once again, I observe children in multitudes who are in need of adequate nutrition.  I have also discovered that simply acting on the impulse to help those in need can have a far reaching impact.  My students and I have had the opportunity to meet a Filipino nurse, who has the heart and conviction to help those who have the greatest of needs.  As a community health nurse she spends her days working in the hottest of conditions, in an environment that is desperate at best.  Every afternoon, from 3:00 to 4:00, she feeds children who are underweight, providing them with at least one nutritious meal in their day.  The efforts go far deeper than meeting the immediate need but considers the long term need for understanding nutrition and attainable ways for families to be self-reliant. This nurse, and many other nurses, spends time with mothers teaching them about nutrition and preparing simple yet healthy meals.  She provides a list of ingredients and the monetary means to purchase an affordable meal to prepare.  Each day a mother prepares the afternoon meal for all of the children to eat together.  The children come one-by-one and sometimes a group of 2 or 3 brothers and sisters.  They bring their own bowl and spoon, kick off their slippers (flip flops) when they enter the room, and head to the table to eat.  There is laughter; big brothers help little sisters to eat, and one-by-one they finish their meal and head back out the door to their home.  The nurse monitors their weight gain and they stay enrolled in this program until they reach and maintain their healthy weight.  This seems like a simple program, but it does require dedication, persistence, and maybe some sacrifice, as the time and conditions are demanding.  However, the effects and impact of this program can be far reaching for these sweet children who will benefit from not only the nutrition but the commitment of this nurse who cares for them and desires for them to have a better life.


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God’s Presence/Presents

One of the assignments for the travel study course, Nursing in Zambia, included the expectation for each student to write a “God Story”. Alas, a travel study course did involve writing papers! What exactly is a God Story? Though there are probably as many definitions as there are people on earth, for this course, the students were to tell a story or describe an experience on this trip in which they felt God’s power, love, and compassion revealed. The uniqueness of each story that has been submitted is a testament to the personal relationship each one of these young women have with God. Each story also contributed to my own God Story, which I would like to share…

From the moment I knew that I would be leading this course, I began to be prayerful for this course in many different ways. I have traveled internationally and participated in health care experiences as a nurse, but I have not previously led a group of students. Students from our school have taken travel study courses before but this year was to be the first purely nursing course. This was the first time our university would be traveling to Zambia; this was my first year at the university! So many firsts! Beyond all the “firsts” though, I focused on an intentional prayer for each of the students who would decide to take this course and make this trip. Many students expressed an interest but who would decide to go? The students may or may not know each other, may or may not really know what nursing is all about may or may not have traveled abroad!   All these concerns I put in God’s hands! I prayed that each student that made the decision to go would feel God’s direction and purpose in making this journey!

How powerful it was when I saw that happen! How beautiful it was when I saw each one of these young women, uniquely individual and uniquely a part of our team, serving God in this beautiful place called Zambia. Throughout the spring semester we got to know each other at each of our meetings, but the bonding solidified as the journey began even with the dreaded words – “delayed flight”.   Opportunities to support, encourage, and even celebrate with each other began on day one and continued throughout our time together. This was a class, yes, but it was more than just a traveling class of students. The students learned many things about health care in a third world country and the differences in nursing schools, and I know they came home with a greater appreciation for what we have here in the United States. They also learned that though worship experiences may be different, sharing a worship experience does not require that the same language be spoken. It is apparent to me that God touched the heart of each one of these students and they each had a purpose during this course. Because of this, they touched the lives of the many people they met and patients they cared for in Zambia. My prayers were answered far beyond what I first imagined in September of 2014.

God presence richly revealed with His presents of six women called to be nurses, called to serve wherever God leads them…. that is my story!

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Exhausted & Exhilirated

Under a beautiful clear blue sky today, we opened the doors to the first Health Fair in Ntekete.  This day was pretty crazy!  We had 4 stations – Blood Pressure check, Blood Sugar Check, Malaria Screening, and Wound Station/General Exam/Pharmacy.  The hours were supposed to be 10-2, the hours were 10-3:30, and then we turned about 40 people away because we were out of everything, including energy!  I am so proud and impressed with my nursing students!  They worked so hard, cared for so many people, 204 people by the way,  without any thought of taking a break – we couldn’t have escaped the room if we tried! They serve God truly through caring for God’s people!  It is fun and rewarding to watch these young women grow and reveal their strengths as leaders and nurses-to-be!

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Three days later…

I started the following post as I prepared to leave for Zambia.  This was 3 days ago… much has happened with 2 days of travel and 1 day in the hospital, but now that I have a moment with internet, I will share my thoughts as I left the USA, and catch-up in my next blog!

Three days ago:

Today, I begin the journey to Zambia to join my students!  These young women have already immersed themselves, not only into a new and different culture but also their calling to be a nurse!  I was thrilled to hear, first-hand yesterday morning, about their experiences in just a short time.  They have made home visits to help individuals with needs both physical and spiritual, they have led over 200 children in Holiday Bible Club (in one day).  On Monday, the day was filled with giving young children and babies immunizations, providing medications to men and women in hospitals and assessing patients.  One student had the opportunity to go out on transport – I look forward to hearing about the rest of this story.

I do believe it is a calling to be a nurse and these students feel this also.  I hear it in their voice as they describe their day and I read it in the words they write as they journal their encounters.  There is much responsibility in this calling, and a commitment to learn and grow as a professional.  How nice to be able to take the classroom around the world!

Rebekah/Dr. G

P.S. – Oh so much more in the next post!


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Kuti mwatemwo kuya ku Zambia?

11204407_10205183240594396_951837032187979444_nWould you like to go to Zambia?  I am very excited to lead (yet follow) these young women to Zambia and discover what nursing is like in another corner of the world.  I think before I go any further I should mention the one male figure in the group!  Thank goodness for great colleagues, Mr. Alan Huesing is taking my group out, so that I can stay behind and watch one of my daughters graduate; I will be catching up afterwards!  I think we will make him an honorary nurse!

I anticipate great experiences on this journey.  I hope each one of these students make a connection with a nursing student in Chitambo while they ‘do’ clinicals together.  What a great opportunity to see what nursing school is like far from our own familiar campus in East Texas.  I look forward to the opportunity to lecture and listen to lectures from Zambian faculty and doctors. I can’t wait to experience life in a place so different than my own home and meet the people who live in Zambia.  Oh yes, and Victoria Falls…AND a safari!

There are GREAT things in store for us on this journey and I look forward to sharing as we go. Follow along!

Tukamonana limbi (See you later)

Rebekah/Dr. G


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ImageThank you Jess for the photo!

Writing creatively and methodically has become a daily part of my work as a nurse, I never would have imagined that, those years ago when I first began my career.  The only writing I saw myself doing at that time was writing Care Plans and Patient Notes.  When I first started nursing everyone had a 4-ink pen, the color of ink you used depended on what shift you worked.  That was our tool for all the writing we completed. Now, a nurse in most health care settings could probably make it through any shift without a pen, and that’s okay.  The advent of the electronic health record has changed the writing process of nurse’s notes.

But it’s not just what I use to write with that has changed over the years; my writing has changed in what I want to share to other nurses and health care professionals.  Certainly the patient note has not lost its significance, but now my writing is more focused on educating and supporting the health care worker in the pursuit of evidence-based practice and quality patient care.

Speaking with several of my classmates over the past week, we have all expressed struggles with completion of our scholarly work that represents our DNP project.  It can be frustrating with rewrites, repeatedly resubmitting the (dreaded) IRB application and back to editing again.  But I am discovering that learning happens in this process as well, each round of edits my work becomes clearer and reflects what I want to share, and I become more comfortable with a skill that will stay with me a lifetime.

So my advice to anyone taking this path – spend time becoming familiar and comfortable with writing – in any form – even a blog.  I read a bit of advice the other day that suggested spending 20 minutes every day just writing – anything!  Now that piece of advice is kind of hard to avoid as I finalize the last bit of my doctoral project study, every day I will be writing.  But it is a worthy pursuit, as it is important to share the scholarly work that we discover in our practice, for what good does knowledge serve if it is not shared!

Rebekah

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The Journey Continues at Home

Image   I have returned home, and can’t believe it has been almost  2 weeks!  Resetting the body clock, along with getting back to work and settling into home have made the past 2 weeks just fly by.  But, it’s time to refocus and begin pulling my ideas, experiences, and plans together and prepare for my Oral Defense – yes, it’s time!  Reality set in with an email Thursday “inviting” me to defend my DNP project with my committee!  A little scary, but who doesn’t love an invitation?

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I came home from the Philippines with quite a bit more than I had upon arrival, one suitcase and a carry-on suddenly became a cart full of luggage!  However, I would need more luggage than this to contain my ideas, my thoughts, my experiences, and my hopes for future work with my new found friends and colleagues across the ocean.  My DNP project is very focused and very specific to reflect the knowledge and experience gained as I have progressed through my doctoral studies.  But it is exciting to contemplate where this may lead!  I see my project growing into possibly a long-term collaborative work with the medical teams in the Philippines, maybe a connection with my brother’s work – so many possibilities!  

For now though, it’s time for the next step in this journey! Prep for the Orals!  My MacBook will be my best friend and constant companion for the next few days! Hanggáng sa mulî!Image


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Bayanihan

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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