Amy Montes is a registered nurse currently working toward her Master’s degree at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus to become a primary pediatric nurse practitioner. She spent one month volunteering with Project HOPE at the NRI General Hospital in Vijayawada, India, where she mentored and taught the pediatric nurses.
For the past month, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside nurses at the NRI General Hospital in southeast India. Upon my arrival here, I was welcomed warmly and oriented to the campus and my living quarters for the next month. I quickly became engrossed in my daily routine. Mornings were spent working with nurses and patients in the pediatric ward, PICU or NICU, and afternoons were dedicated to developing adapted Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) curricula and teaching the respective courses.
I recall finding myself jumping to initial conclusions about nursing and medical practices that could be improved or were done incorrectly. After reframing my focus to observing and learning rather than judging, I found the nurses’ knowledge base to be very sound. Their care was quite similar to what we provide in the United States, but adapted for the limited resources available. With a deeper understanding of the rationale behind the care provided, I was able to better educate the nurses and influence the delivery of quality care.
A particular memory that comes to mind occurred in my third week on the pediatric unit. There was an abundance of nursing students taking on patient care activities, and I found myself with little to do and wondering if I was making any kind of difference. Looking around the ward, I couldn’t help but feel saddened by the disengaged faces of the patients. There was utterly nothing for the children to do except lie in bed and wait days to weeks to be discharged. Fortunately, I had a moment of creativity and dedicated that evening to vigorously cutting up an old book and educating myself in the art of origami. For the next several days the unit was filled with paper frogs, butterflies and smiling faces.
As I continue to process and reflect upon this experience, I find myself pondering whether I had a larger impact on NRI, or NRI upon me. Maybe the answer to that question is not so important, but rather the importance lies in the way I live my life following these experiences. Emulating the goodness I saw each day, particularly the powers of patience, warmth, kindness and an open heart.
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