Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy Holidays!


Hard to believe it's over already. When I look back, there was a lot of heartache, but growth along with it. Funny how those two are always connected.

I started working at University of TN Medical Center one year ago. The long 12-hour shifts really make the weeks fly by! I work in the Neonatal ICU, a large 67-bed ward for babies. Many friends have asked me, "What do you actually do there?" I try to explain it as part tech, part secretary. I help run the front desk, dealing a lot with the parents and families of the babies, which can be a bit exciting at times. New babies always seem to come with family drama, custody issues, etc. I've seen some of the strangest things...many young teenage moms, drug babies, crazy relationships within families.

Another main part of my job is processing all the doctors' orders off the charts. We haven't gone to the computer-entry system yet for the physicians, so they still write all their orders out and then we enter them into the computer, order lab tests & xrays, and call physicians in a myriad of specialties to come consult our babies. I really like doing this because I have been able to learn so much by reading through the process of treating our babies. Away from the desk, I help the nurses hang their IV fluids and TPN, and help feed a baby now and then when it gets busy. I enjoy having a job that really involves so many different things. I run all over the hospital at times, picking things up and dropping things off, trying to figure out answers for the nurses and doctors. I keep my ears open, trying to pick up on anything happening around the unit because my job is a constant stream of questions from people, "Can you fix this? Can you find this? Can you order this? Help me!" Fun, fun :) I LOVE when it's busy!
While working in the hospital and having these 2 years off from college, it has really been a good reflection time for me to really understand what I'm interested in doing. In all my time overseas in other countries, I've seen a lot of need in women's and children's health. I've seen a lot of births go awry and emergencies unattended because of the distance from medical care and lack of skilled birth attendants. One of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations, is to reduce the maternal mortality rate, especially in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa where giving birth is very risky. According to the 2011 State of the World’s Midwifery Report by the UNFPA, approximately 350,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth every year— almost 1,000 a day. Of these women, 99 percent die in developing countries.

This is something I've become passionate about and have made the decision to become trained as a midwife! I have applied to a couple of direct-entry midwifery schools in the last few months and am currently waiting to hear from a school in Portland, OR that I interviewed at in November. My real dream is to be able to not only practice as a midwife, but also to teach basic midwifery skills to women in these remote areas of underdeveloped countries so that they could help the women in their villages.
I am also looking forward to a chance to step back into Africa this March. I'm going to Nigeria with my friend Lisa Hulse, to teach Neonatal Resuscitation at the Ile-Ife SDA Hospital. Lisa and I were high school friends, and it is so neat to end up with similar interests wanting to see things happen in the area of maternal and neonatal health. And it's Africa! I will be updating my blog with more as we work on fundraising and preparing for the trip.

It has been hard being alone in Tennessee away from so many friends and family, especially hard not getting to spend the holidays with any of them. But it has also been good, pushing me past my comfort zone. I have a great group of friends here that have dinner together each week and have a wonderful roommate, Pamela, who I moved in with in September. And of course, Mowgli, my great little travel companion, posing above with our Christmas tree that he enjoyed terrorizing :)

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