Body’s in America, mind’s in Africa

Being back home for about a week now, I’ve had a lot of time to unwind my mind and personally reflect on my experience in Uganda. I knew it would be the opportunity of a lifetime but, relaying my experiences to all of my friends and family I feel I am able to cherish this experience that much more. I find myself at a loss of words at times, unable to depict life in Uganda with any pattern of words or pictures. The most impactful thing I can say about life in Uganda is while they may live quite differently and simply, the people seem far happier than most of the people I’ve come across in America or Europe. They seem to need only the essentials, and even without some of these essentials they always wear a smile on their face. I feel privileged to be taking this part of Uganda home with me.

The healthcare aspect of Uganda required the most reflection of everything I experienced. At the beginning of the trip I questioned everything they did in the hospitals trying to make sense of everything. I couldn’t help but to think they practiced like we would have 40 years ago. By the end of the trip I decided I would never comes to terms with some of their practices and felt more comfortable saying, “They just do things differently over here, and I can’t necessarily change this”. While I still disagree with many of their practices, I know they are doing what they think is the best for their patients, and the best with the resources they have. I love how pharmacy is trying to evolve into a more clinical profession in Uganda. Winnie is the best human being ever for working so hard for the profession of pharmacy. She has high expectations for pharmacists in Uganda (and probably even pharmacists in America for that matter). It will be a slow process, but each small step in the right direction will help speed up the process. I hope we were able to do just that and help pharmacy in Uganda take one small step in the right direction.

I hope I am able to take these thoughts with me and incorporate them into my travels, my practices, and my relationships moving forward in everyday life. Being able to take a step back from any situation, gain some perspective, and decipher how to tackle the problem from all angles is a talent I hope to keep strengthening and I know this global health APPE helped me to do so. Until next time Africa, I’ll be back!

With Love,

–Brit

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Getting into a rhythm

In order to keep everyone in the loop, I believe we are going to keep updating everyone a few days at a time moving forward. Hope that works for everyone back home! After the first couple of days and the weekend, I think we are finally starting to get into a nice rhythm. I must admit that for me, this still consists of an afternoon nap courtesy of the 7 hour time difference.

Early Monday we had the opportunity to follow up with some of the children we had seen the previous week in the pediatric ward in Mulago Hospital. We divided up into our respective groups and were able to round with the medical teams a bit more than we were able to on Friday. The medical team my group was able to round with seemed a little weary of us initially. Once they understood why we were there and how we could help, we found them actively seeking our advice. I found these were much more complicated cases than what I had seen on any of my rotations thus far (A child with end stage renal failure, uncontrolled blood pressure on 5 different anti-hypertensive medications, on oxygen for fluid build up in his lungs, and a likely MRSA infection in his blood) and it took a group of 3-4 creative pharmacy students to come up with solid recommendations.

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Above: Katy channeling her inner child in the Pediatric Ward Monday morning on rounds.

In the afternoon on Monday we were able to get involved with something a bit different. We traveled back to Makerere University School of Pharmacy to present “Inpatient Pharmacy in America” to 4th year students. We were able to discuss with the class the unique experiences we have each had in the realm of inpatient pharmacy. For me, I was able to speak to inpatient mental health wards, as well as, inpatient compounding (IV Labs). I think the students were surprised considering it is common to make the IVs at the bedside and administer them immediately. We were also able to listen in on a few group case presentations from the students at Makerere. This was exciting to get a feel for the types of patients and treatments we may see in the future in Uganda. It was also interesting to gauge the similarities and differences between the Makerere case presentations and the Wilkes case presentations.

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Above: Beth introducing the responsibilities as a pharmacist in the Emergency Department to the students of Makerere School of Pharmacy.

Today (Tuesday) was another very exciting day that all of us have been looking forward to. Today Winnie and David (our Ugandan contacts/guides) took us to a clinic tailored to infants and toddlers. At this clinic, the mothers came to have their children weighed, growth charted, sought medical advice on their developing child, and get up to date on their vaccinations. IT WAS AWESOME, but very, very busy! Before I knew it 9:30AM was 12:30PM. There were so many mothers and babies seeking the help and services and I think the nurses were relieved to have some more help. Personally, I was in charge of charting which vaccinations were needed and given. I worked very closely with Autumn who was in charge of documenting the services provided in a large and “comprehensive” book of patients. We found quickly this is very different than how we document in the United States, but were able to continue to the best of our ability. Also, we found out very quickly that they do not give 3 doses of Rotavirus to children in Uganda.

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Above: Autumn and myself checking in the waiting mothers and babies at the vaccination clinic.

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Above: Rubi administering an oral Polio vaccine like a pro.

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Above: Mike with the cutest, little girl that stole all of our hearts at the clinic. 

The latter part of the day we split up a little due to some confusion with booking and time constraints (but that’s okay–we are all very good to “go with the flow” at this point). Dr. Manning and Dr. Prelewicz went back to the school of pharmacy to give a lecture on Acute Malnutrition, they were also able to listen in on several journal club presentations from the students. We were able to sit in on a Ugandan language class with a group of aspiring doctors and nurses from Sweden. Ugandan language is decently difficult, but we picked up some essential phrases mainly to be polite to the locals and annoy our driver, David (don’t worry he loves us). Here’s some of the phrases we learned:

How are you/Are you fine?——————Oli bulungi?

I am fine.——————-Ndi bulungi

Thank you very much————————Weebalennyo

(or as Mayi would say: Weebalennyo-nnyo-nnyo-nnyo-nnyo-nnyo-nnyo-nnyo which would translate to thank you very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much)

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Above: Dr. Manning speaking about acute malnutrition to students at Makerere University School of Pharmacy. 

Peace out followers, and stay tuned. More exciting things to come!

Britt 🙂

Brittany Gurreri

Hello everyone! My name is Brittany and I am a P4, pharmacy student at Wilkes University.  I will graduate this spring with a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree, as well as a chemistry minor. Following graduation I would like to pursue a clinical PGY-1 residency next year in a larger institutional setting that relies heavily on their pharmacists to operate on the cutting edge in a patient-centered environment. I enjoy both the inpatient and outpatient settings and would like the opportunity to precept pharmacy students and/or residents and work with other student professionals to help them develop and realize the responsibility we, as pharmacists, hold.

Personally, I am originally from York, Pennsylvania. I spend a lot of time looking after my 2 year old Doberman Pinscher, Bane. I was a 4 year student-athlete on the Wilkes University Women’s Soccer team and I enjoy traveling to places especially new and different from what I am use to. I have traveled throughout the world including Mexico, Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, China, and Thailand (just to name a few), but never to Africa. That being said I am very excited to set off on this trip. This trip is even more important and exciting for me because I get the rare opportunity of practicing what I love in a foreign setting as such.

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I truly believe this Global Health APPE rotation is a once in a life time opportunity! It will allow me to grow as a professional in interacting with other professionals who may practice quite differently from what I am use to. I hope this trip will uniquely broaden my practice style and allow me to brainstorm uncharacteristic ways to deliver patient oriented care to both stable and critically ill patients. I also hope I come away with enhanced communication skills in regards to collaborating with other healthcare professionals, as well as,  with patients directly.

In our off time I’m excited to become familiar with local customs, food, clothing, and the general way of life in Uganda. In particular, I am excited for the safari at the end of the trip and to try local Ugandan dishes. Until this trip, 2 weeks is the longest I have ever been out of the country for in one stretch of time. Therefore, I am very excited to grow as a person in this matter. Hope you all stay tuned throughout our trip. It’s going to be great!