Patience, perseverance and the delicate combo thereof: my experience in Malawi gave me a leg up on this one: it can be so incredibly frustrating to work in a developing country. Most people think that is because of a lack of resources: “it must be hard to want to treat someone with a medicine or procedure that you don’t have.” I suppose that is true, but I think that most people who do this kind of work are prepared to make the best of what is available. What people are less prepared for is dealing with what people like to term “cultural differences” or “inefficiencies” (I find these somewhat euphemistic).
|Hard to get frustrated when you get to see babies in clinic|
When all else fails, use junk food: It is important to remember that you are a guest. While you should never compromise when it comes to an issue of patient care, it’s still important to be polite and respectful. Bringing offerings of food never hurts.
|Behold the transformative power of cake! Saying thank you to all my lab buddies.|
Let go of your elitism: it would be really easy to leave Botswana disgusted by way some things are handled. And it’s true- there is no excuse for letting patient care fall by the wayside. It was hard to stomach sometimes: I met doctors who seemed not to care about their patients, nurses who would routinely use facebook during clinic etc etc. One time I tried to bring a very ill patient into the dermatology clinic room but the nurses insisted I find somewhere else because they wanted to go home. Patients weren’t generally handled with deference and I saw some things that really horrified me. It would be easy to emerge from this experience smug in the knowledge that many of these issue would be better handled in the US….BUT let’s remember that the US fails on patient care in other ways: we order unnecessary tests, practice defensive medicine, don’t spend enough time with our patients and we are participating in a healthcare system that is unsustainable. So coming from a place of judgment not only limits what you can learn from a place, it also is sort of hypocritical.
|Going above and beyond: a nurse at Kanye|
Most importantly...secure the door to your room on safari: or a monkey will come in and steal your coffee...duh!