Home > politics > Diploma in Tropical Nursing – end of week 2

Diploma in Tropical Nursing – end of week 2

Wow have we had 2 weeks already?! They’ve gone fast and I’ve enjoyed meeting and socialising with folks. Everyone so far has been friendly and relaxed and open to informal chat. I think its because we’re predominantly all nurses, and thats usual nurse culture (though there can also be some backstabbing and cliqueyness, that’s not my general experience on most wards).

I’m a little bit anxious about what to pick for my essay topic. I want it to be something that will be useful to learn about in depth, but that doesn’t narrow it down much! I’m interested in public health, especially basic stuff like drinking water and hygiene, and prevention. I’ve spent 4 months in Palestine and am very passionate about health in war zones, but not sure if I’ve the personal strength to deal with living in those acutely dangerous situations again, so not sure whether that would be useful. Having said that, what kept me going through my nurse training was my dream of returning to Gaza as a nurse, so maybe I will yet find myself there. Other possible topics are malaria, as being in India last winter, and being confronted with how little nursing in Glasgow prepared me for such a common condition in low and middle income countries (LMIC) was a massive factor in finally applying for the DTN, though I’d been considering it for years. Diabetes is another possibility, as it was so prevalent in Bhopal, where I was volunteering, and so inadequately[1] dealt with, in my opinion. The patients were given long printed out texts, but they had limited literacy. And even if they could read, or had it read to them, this is massively inadequate given the local diet and lack of peer support. I had a couple of ideas, which had favourable response from everyone working there (vast majority of whom are locals), but didn’t have the time left in my trip to put these into place. The first was to have the patient information read aloud into mp3 files that could be uploaded by bluetooth into the ubiquitious mobile phones; this would save nurses the approx 30-40 mins they currently spend reading the info leaflets to the patients, and mean that the patients could listen back in their own time, and hopefully take it in better. The second idea was for a monthly peer support group for the diabetic patients and relatives. Again the doctors were very enthusiastic about the usefulness of such a group, but there was no spare capacity to make this happen. If I was to return to Bhopal, and I’d really like to, I’d be looking at the literature on care of diabetic patients in LMIC anyway, so combining this with the essay is tempting, as I’m already motivated by seeing the need. Anyway, I’ll be mulling these options over, and thinking about other options over the next week.

The microscope we've been learning to use. There's 3 distinct parts to controlling the light source, each with several variables, plus the eyepieces, objective lenses and stage.

The microscope we’ve been learning to use. There’s 3 distinct parts to controlling the light source, each with several variables, plus the eyepieces, objective lenses and stage.

The lab sessions are quickly becoming the highlight of, I think, all of our days. They’re a great use of what would otherwise be a mid afternoon lull in energy. Instead we move to a different room, and rather than having another lecture, are doing something practical and new. Nothing like a white coat and a lab desk to turn nurses into nerds! Not only was I very excited to have finally found a basophil on my slide, but all my classmates round about unselfconsciously crowded round to peek at such a rare blood cell, as it was only the third found in two sessions! Emperor’s new clothes style, we’re all gradually admitting to each other our eagerness to look at our own blood under the microscopes – unfortunately I don’t think we get to do that, but I’m glad to not be the only one who’s been thinking that :) This week, as well as looking at abnormal blood, we also did our own staining. Felt magical and far simpler than I had thought, to follow the procedure and then use our newfound microscope skills to see the results.

LSHTM’s library is, as expected, deep rather than broad. I love libraries anyway, but this one is super good. Lots of dark wood panelling, desks *and* comfy armchairs next to windows, and 3 rooms lines with books. The librarians are friendly and helpful. It feels so different, nicer, to be in an institution aimed at graduates – apologies to undergrads, but Glasgow Uni was nicer for me during the holidays when you were all away! Please bear in mind I’m a bit of a nerdy, introverted recluse who irrationally resents having to share a library with anyone – its more a comment on my bookishness than on you.

There’s been lots of introductory lectures so far, but not so much I’ve felt to study after class, so I’ve been self studying where holes in my own knowledge have felt apparent. I’ve been doing a really good online immunology course at https://courses.edx.org/courses/RiceX/BIOC372.1x-F14/2T2014/info and also self studying about sickle cell. As this week’s lectures are focused on worms, I’m going to try to do the next section on the immunology course, which focuses on innate (as opposed to acquired/adaptive) immunity and revise GI anatomy and physiology.

[1] This is absolutely not a slight on the excellent and hardworking staff out there. They simply are already running at more than full capacity. The clinic is very busy and they are dealing with a massive burden, on limited resources; Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals poisoned an already poor population and walked away. The clinic is entirely donation based. If you’d like to see more care happen there, please donate and/or volunteer via http://www.bhopal.org/ which also gives more information on the background and current situation.

Categories: politics
  1. Veronica
    September 22, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Really excited for you x

  2. Ian Jarvis
    September 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    That all seems very interesting, Alice, & I am pleased for you that you are enjoying yourself. Did you see my message on FB to you about the situation in the nurses room?

    I think all your ideas good & am sure whichever you go for will receive all your industry and energy. My first thought was the water ideas as it is fundamental to so much of what we do and to life itself but then the diabetes one struck a chord by what you wrote about Bhopal, where I am now, you will recall.

    The Health Workers asked Monica to create a poster (she paints on fabric) about nutrition and the effects of malnutrition (not mentioning diabetes). When I spoke with them, acting as translator of English-English to Spanish-English (!) they seem to have little idea about true nutrition. I was even asked what is better about brown rice over white, and you cannot get wholemeal flour here for love or money. In chatting with Sathyu some months ago, I said that India needs a Jamie Oliver figure! So something related to nutrition (with Indian foods) and the diabetes link would certainly be good for here.

    On another tack, your idea of an mp3 for the diabetes training might have more of a life as Devon is now (or shortly will be) staff and is involved in the computer department. I think it was a really good idea and, if you don’t mind will talk with him about recording Shabnam or Aziza. I think he will have to do the bluetooth connection upload though. But maybe it will happen!



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