Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Doing what I love

Health Education – “charlas”

My love for being a nurse is for many reasons, and one of the primary reasons is the ability to give health education to my patients.  I feel this is so important, and allows a patient to have personal investment in their own health.  It gives patients power over their own illnesses (for some illnesses), and puts the ball back in their court – they are the ones that can make a difference in their own lives.
I’ve learned this first hand.  I’ve had to put to my own personal use many of the health education classes I’ve been teaching over the last 10 years of my missionary/nurse career.

To start my clinic today, I thought I would start it a little differently, for many reasons.  I wanted to start it with a health education (or charla) to all my waiting patients.  The first reason is for wanting to speed things up, but not diminish my health education to my patients.  Instead of giving the same health education to each of my patients with high blood pressure, I can give a one-time class to everyone – so not only those who have high blood pressure, but those who have family members living with them that I may not know about all receive the same information.  This will help significantly decrease my individual education time with each patient and therefore gives me more time overall to see more patients.  In 6 hours I will see 25 patients – it allows me about 15 minutes per patient (no break time), and typically I’m “done” by the end of that 6 hours. 

Once a patient came to see me, and I saw that they had high blood pressure, I asked them what they learned in the health education class.  Basically, I want a return demonstration of precautions and ways of changing their lifestyle and diet that they learned in the class, to ensure they had good understanding.  Without exception, all my patients who came to see me were able to repeat what I had told them – one man even brought his wife into the room (who prepares the food in the house) to ensure she didn’t have any questions.
I realize that this seems like such a SMALL thing – but in my little world, where health education is all but non-existent, it’s a huge milestone and personally encouraging to me.

So – this is just the beginning.  I’m going to be training the nursing staff that work with me (I have anywhere from 2-4 Guinean nurse volunteers) to continue with the teaching so in the future I’ll have Guineans teaching Guineans, and I’ll be doing more classes.  So those who are there and waiting – they are a captive audience J  The next one will be on HIV/AIDS – I have the seminary class I teach, so all the research and writing in Spanish has been done – I just now need to consolidate just the health education portion to a 30-minute health education class.

Potable water, typhoid prevention (or at least a reduction in cases), and breastfeeding are just a few of the other health education classes I want to offer to my waiting patients.  I’m excited for this process and look forward to see what will come of it.   

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