Teaching the “Human Element” in Ghana
Lori and I have been working on a campaign to remind all medical workers that they should always treat their patients as human beings, not just as a diagnosis or a bed number.
Dr. Neil Shocket is an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Los Angeles. Lori Justice-Shocket will be completing medical school this year. The Shockets are in Accra, Ghana for a month-long volunteer mission as part of the Ghana Emergency Medicine Collaborative.
We are pretty well settled into our routine now and have scouted out the best places to eat and shop for our daily essentials. We have gotten the hang of the inner workings of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and feel much more comfortable moving around from area to area in the emergency department.
This past Tuesday, instead of giving a lecture, I opted to have a “round-table” discussion. One of the most interesting parts of the talk was the discussion about the “Human Element.” Lori and I have been working on a campaign to remind all medical workers – especially doctors – that they should always treat their patients as human beings, not just as a diagnosis or a bed number.
We discussed the importance of making a patient feel safe and easing their fear – especially for children. It only takes a second to blow up a glove and draw a face on it to get a child to smile. I have been giving out glove balloons all week. Everyone looks at me like I am crazy, but the kids love it.
Lori and I wear a “Human Element” button pinned onto our scrubs that we had designed especially for our campaign. It looks like an element taken from the periodic table labeled as “Hu.” I passed out a button to each of the residents, and they went crazy for them. It is so heartwarming to see that most of the residents are wearing the buttons on their scrubs. Many of the nurses are asking about it and want to get a button also.
Lori has had great exposure to a multitude of pathologies. It has been a wonderful experience for her last few weeks of medical school. She has had opportunities to see and do many advanced procedures.
Lastly, I celebrated by birthday this week. Lori brought in cake and soft drinks and the nurses in the red area sang Happy Birthday to me in the local language of Twi.
That’s about it for this week. I hope this blog helps keep you and future volunteers informed.