Clarity

I can’t believe it has been over a week since I returned home from Uganda. I have actually been avoiding reflecting on this trip because I knew it would be one of the hardest things for me to do. This trip provided so much for me…so much that I’m not sure how to put it into words.

Before leaving for Uganda, I had a conversation with my cousin, Mike. He had previously traveled to Guyana for a service trip so I knew he would provide me with great advice for this adventure I was about to embark on. He told me that he hoped I would find peace and clarity just living in the moment in Uganda. I thought about that my entire trip. I wanted to be present. I wanted to experience every single thing that the country had to offer me… and somewhere along the way, I felt as though I found myself again.

As P4 students, we are all in such an incredibly tough spot when it comes to making a decision for our future careers. I had personally struggled immensely throughout all of pharmacy school to make the decision of where I could see myself working after graduation. While being in Uganda, we worked very closely with pharmacists, physicians, and a variety of patient populations. I learned the importance of adapting to the environment I am in— to learn to think outside of the box and use whatever you have available. Through this experience and through every scenario I was put in, I finally had a moment of clarity where it seemed so obvious as to where I belonged in my future career. It took me leaving the States and traveling to Uganda to find myself, but through every single experience Dr. Manning provided us with, I figured it out.

All I can think of that is left to say is thank you. Thank you to every single person who I met in Uganda who made me feel as if I was home. Thank you to every child (and mother who let me hold her child) for making my heart so happy each day. Thank you to Uganda for being one of the best countries to exist. Thank you 10 million times over to Stacy and Dr. Manning along with the 6 other students I went on this trip with. I can only hope that I have the opportunity again to do something like this. And lastly, thank you to this experience for helping to shape me as a person and a professional.

Beth

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Happy Halloween/First Day of November!

IMG_9924Ki Kati! (Chi-ka-tee)

Fun Fact: Halloween is my favorite holiday, but it is not really celebrated here. We were told by our amazing driver, David, that the holiday is celebrated on the weekend by the “partiers” only….so no candy for us 😦

Anywayssss, I am going to cover the last two days of experiences here in Uganda!

On Wednesday, we started our day at Kiruddu hospital. This was the first day we were able to round at the women’s HIV ward. The experience was VERY eye opening. We again divided into two teams to round and see patients. My team had the opportunity to work closely with the medical students from Makerere University. Most of our patients were very sick and battling illnesses such as HIV, TB, and oral thrush. The wards are quite packed and lack standard monitoring devices we use in the United States. A medical student asked us to review medications for a patient and check for drug interactions. It was so natural for me to see TDF, an ART medication, and ask “Do we know their renal function?” The student informed us that hepatic and renal functions are desired, but unfortunately many patients cannot afford to have them checked. It really surprises me how little information they may have, but they do everything in their power to make the best clinical decision that will be safe and effective for their patients. I feel as though I am SO reliant on having as much clinical data I can possibly gather before making a decision, so I am learning a lot about how to use the little resources I have available. This type of situation reminds me a lot of my emergency room rotation (which I loved so much) so in a way it excites me and is making me more confident in my clinical knowledge. IMG_9916

 

While rounding in the women’s HIV ward, Mayi and Rubi went over to a child who they saw caring for his grandmother. They gave him two toy dinosaurs which you could tell made him so happy. It’s the little things in life 🙂

 

 

Following our experience at the women’s HIV ward, we went to Makerere University to teach the pharmacy students how to take blood pressures. This was a highlight of the trip for me because I have a huge interest in Academia (shoutout to my amazing mum for that influence). Dr. Manning started the session by covering various aspects of hypertension and how to properly take a BP. The students then broke up into small groups which each of the 7 of us had the opportunity to lead. I loved this opportunity because I got to use my Care Lab skills to teach students how to counsel patients, take BPs, and educate patients on the importance of monitoring hypertension. I was pleasantly surprised with how interactive the students were. They asked various questions and seemed so grateful to have us there!IMG_8503

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Above are photos of Stacy (our preceptor) and Mike (P4 student) educating Makerere University pharmacy students on how to properly take a BP.

Later on Wednesday night, we had the opportunity to go to a cultural dance show in Kigowa. We got to eat traditional Ugandan food and watch the various dances of the tribes in Uganda! One of the coolest aspects of the show was the instruments they played. We got to hear the loudest drums in all of Africa! The show also ended with us being invited to join in and dance…this was definitely a highlight for Mayi!

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There were various costumes highlighted through out the show, but this was definitely Katy’s favorite. As she put it “OMG! They have my hair color!” 

 

 

Today (Thursday) was a much calmer day. We spent our morning at Mulago hospital where we again split up into two teams. My team had the opportunity to get somewhat of a tour of various wards on the campus. We got to see the Neuro ICU, Emergency Room, Community Pharmacy, Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, and another Pediatric ward. It was really interesting being able to see so many areas of the campus. We definitely did not realize how large of a campus Mulago was! We spent most of our time in the Emergency Room speaking with the pharmacists who worked there. They had a variety of medications such as antihypertensives, pain medications, antibiotics, etc. I spent my last rotation at Hershey Medical Center in the Emergency Room so I was able to really compare the differences between both emergency rooms. An aspect I enjoyed was how active the pharmacists are in validating medications for safety and efficacy for the patients. I was somewhat surprised at how much they were relied on in the ER. An aspect that shocked me was, again, the lack of monitoring devices present in the hospital. There are a lot of very ill patients in the ER, but the physicians, nurses, and pharmacists do their best to treat them or get them admitted to one of the hospital wards!

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This picture shows Dr. Manning, Autumn, Britt, Mayi, Rubi, and myself speaking with the pharmacist and intern in the Emergency Room Pharmacy!

 

 

 

Our experiences have been so incredible so far this trip! It is crazy to think that we have already been in this amazing country for over a week. I am looking forward to being able to continue to learn and grow through this special APPE experience and I hope you are all excited to continue to follow our journey! 🙂

Siiba Bulungi! (Good Day)

Beth

Bethany Chmil, Student Pharmacist Introduction

     Hi everyone!! My name is Beth and I am one of the 7 students given the incredible opportunity at go to Uganda for one of my APPE electives. I am half-way through my last year of pharmacy school and it has been one of the best years of my life filled with amazing opportunities provided to me through Wilkes University. I think the best question I am constantly asked is “What do you want to do when you graduate?”. I still don’t think I can confidently say, so it will remain a mystery for now. I have a passion for helping others and have most enjoyed my experiences in the Emergency Room (specifically the Trauma Bay) and teaching future pharmacists. I like to keep my schedule busy between work, pharmacy organization involvement, and spending time with my friends and family. I also LOVE to travel and hope to see as much of the world as possible. My favorite “fun fact” to share is that I have a twin sister, Cornelia, who is a Speech Pathologist and arguably the best person I know.
     I chose to go on this once in a lifetime trip to Uganda for various reasons. I feel as though I can learn so much from this trip about myself, about my profession, and about the world I live in. I look forward to being able to learn about what resources are available in Uganda and how they go about treating patients. I am most interested in the opportunities I will have teaching and working with kids. Rumor has it that we might be doing a vaccine clinic with pediatric patients! I believe that this rotation will challenge me in so many ways. It will challenge me to open my mind to the world as well as think outside of the box. In pharmacy, we are taught the “best” way to handle situations: what medications work best, side effects and contraindications of medications, etc. I know that the health care system is not the same, so I will need to be able to find alternatives ways to go about best treating a patient. I am confident that I will grow as a student pharmacist and a person through this opportunity.
     I believe that pharmacy students should have an opportunity to travel to other countries so that we can gain a new perspective. Health care systems across the world vary greatly, and it can only benefit us to learn the pros and cons to how other systems work. We learn in school about the various medications available, but they are not available universally. To see how other countries help to treat patients with the resources they have available will help us to think outside of the box when we are posed with challenges in our future careers. Traveling and continuing to learn will only help mold us into incredible future pharmacists who may be taking care of you one day!
I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Beth