25 Junio 2017 ~ Domingo

Buenas Dias Amigos!

We hope you all are having a wonderful day so far! Sunday was a day full of rest, fun, and adventure. For some of us it began by attending mass at the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. The beautiful church adds to the strong sense of community in the town of Chitre. After church, many of us participated in the San Juan Bautista Festival. The festival was a grand celebration; even Miss Chitre and the Mayor of Chitre made an appearance. Our surroundings truly became breath taking with many dressed in traditional clothing that displayed extravagant colors. These dresses were beautiful! Also, there were others, who were dressed in costumes that portrayed the spirits that San Juan protects against and drives away. Some of these individuals were on top of the several stunning floats depicting the true artistic nature of the people of Chitre. Everyone who attended was greeted by familiar and new faces that took pride in sharing their culture. We even ran into the owner of the farm, Milton, from yesterday’s activities who was glad to see us enjoying ourselves. Many of us were dancing and enjoying all the fun with friendly people of Chitre. Some people ran toward us, gleaming with happiness, while they asked us where we were from! Of course, we are recognized as foreigners, however we were still greeted with respect and smiles. While some of us were enjoying the parade and the festivities, others stayed at the hotel. At the hotel, we could work on homework, go swimming in the beautiful pool, as well as just relax and catch up on some sleep. It’s hard to believe that already over a week has gone by! Each day has been full of wonderful surprises and great learning opportunities. We look forward to the second half of our trip!

Alleyah Sealy & Catherine Hurtado

Photos taken by: Alleyah Sealy

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24 Junio 2017

¡Buenas tardes from Chitré! This weekend, we are all looking forward to continue immersing ourselves in the Panamanian culture! To kick things off, we visited an authentic farm in the rural country of the Herrera province. The 125-acre farm, called Hacienda el Eden (Spanish for Paradise Ranch), has been passed down through five family generations. Margarita and her nephew Milton were bursting with pride as they described the way they have grown their family’s legacy.

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First, some students embraced their country roots and assisted in milking one of their cows. Many of us have never had the opportunity to do something like this! We were very grateful that they were so patient as we learned the technique.

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Next, we mixed up some powdered formula and fed three of the young calves. As we were finishing up, Milton informed us that one of the calves did not have a name yet. He was pleased to announce that he had been saving that privilege just for us! Erin, one of our Bull Nurses, quickly came up with the idea of “Lola” and the rest of the group agreed – this was the name for our quirky little cow.

After the excitement of the calves, we were able to ride their horse, Pulguitas, around their beautiful property. Margarita and Milton then lead us on a walk along their scenic property to pick some fresh, refreshing fruit from their trees that we would later use to prepare our lunch. The mangos and mamoncillos were perfect on this hot Chitré day!

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Finally, we made our way back to their handcrafted out-door kitchen were we assisted Maria, the local culinary genius, in preparing an authentic lunch. This consisted of sancocho, mango salad, arroz con pollo, corn tortilla de maíz and fresh cheese with the milk from the morning! Students took turns churning the corn and then Maria cooked the tortillas in large banana leaf on a hot skillet. This Panamanian cuisine was delicious!

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Unfortunately, today we said goodbye to Christian, our beloved bus driver and tour guide, as he has other obligations to follow for the duration of our trip. He has gone above and beyond for us throughout our trip, taking us anywhere we want to go. We are more than grateful for this hospitality.

All and all, it was a beautiful day at Hacienda el Eden. The scenic countryside filled with mountain peaks and patches of wildflowers was like something out of a movie. We are blessed to have this opportunity! Hasta mañana amigos!

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– Rebecca & Taylor

 

23 Junio 2017

¡Buenas!

We had a very eventful day today! First, we went to our assigned clinics where we had the opportunity to observe pap smears, administer vaccines, assist in nebulizer treatments, and present our service learning projects (SLP). It was so interesting to see how the nursing roles are different in Panama compared to the United States. During the implementation of our SLPs the patients were extremely attentive to our teachings and everyone participated, even the Panamanian students joined in! Each group presented a different topic: Sexually Transmitted Infections, Mosquito-Borne Illnesses and Teen Pregnancy. The Panamanians were such good sports throughout the presentations which we greatly appreciated.

After clinicals we did some shopping at the Artisan Villages. We had the privilege of touring the Artisan’s homes and watching how they molded the clay, heated them in the kiln, and hand-painted them. Many of us decided to purchase hammocks without knowing where they would go in our homes, but that did not matter because the amount of time and effort spent hand crafting these was simply too astonishing to pass up.

Our final venture for the day was the San Juan Batista festival. The Panamanian tradition involves children dressing up as “demons” and running through the crowd. Then, we waited outside the church for them to “let out the saint”. We learned this symbolizes the devil and how the San Juan Batista is ridding the town of evil.  Afterwards, we strolled around the court yard and browsed many venues and made several purchases. It was amazing to experience the festival and its culture. We ended our night at Lomeli’s Grill eating arepas and laughing the night away!

22 junio 2017

Today started with an epic run along one of the main streets in Chitre, starting in front of the Hotel Azuero. We have a lot of health-minded individuals in this group, which is incredibly important because nurses should practice what they preach. After our run, we enjoyed a very delicious breakfast at Hotel Azeuro of sausage, carne, fresh fruit, eggs, cheese and of course, salsa piquante!

After breakfast, we gathered in the lobby to head towards the escuela and our home visits. We started with an absolutely wonderful presentation on what the school and nursing program have specifically been participating in towards the care of the community. We learned a TON, and I mean, a TON, about the community, all completely inspiring. This conversation really helped all of us to gain a better understanding of the specific issues that the Panamanian community is dealing with and how they are working together to meet their needs. It was great to learn that Interdisciplinary Education truly is across all cultures as they spoke specifically of working with social workers, psychologists, professors, nurses, and nursing students.

After the presentation, we all went into the community and worked with specific families, providing them necessary items such as the items pictured below – spam, sugar, flour, cocoa – all to provide for the families. We visited with families that the Panamanian Nursing students (dressed in white shirts and jeans) have been working with all semester, also pictured below.

After the home visits, we headed back to the hotel. Some of us stayed at the hotel and did homework; others walked through the community in groups to complete their windshield survey assignment. We heard wonderful things about the communities such as the best grocery stores and great values. The overall consensus is that Panama is a welcoming and a loving society.

21 Junio 2017: Chitré

Today we had the luxury of sleeping in an extra hour before loading the bus to head to the clinic to pick up the vaccines we would need for the day. We traveled to a local school to vaccinate the children. We gave out the Varicella vaccine, which is a subcutaneous injection, and the Influenza vaccine, which is an intramuscular injection. The children were wonderful and hardly cried!

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Permission was given to take this photograph.

Another group educated students about the importance of oral hygiene. They talked about using the “Happy Birthday” song to know how long to brush, what sugary foods to avoid, and how many times a day this should be done.

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Then, we spilt up into two groups and traveled to the neighboring community to go door to door giving vaccines to families. Here in Panama, it is the law to be up to date on vaccinations, so those who cannot afford travel expenses to local clinics can receive them in their homes. Unexpectedly, it began to rain, but thanks to the generosity of the Panamanian neighbors, we were provided umbrellas to stay dry. We were so grateful for the opportunity to experience giving vaccinations in this way since it is done differently in the United States.

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Permission was given to take this photograph.

For dinner, we were surprised to be greeted by upbeat Spanish music, which helped to create the perfect atmosphere. We are looking forward to having many more amazing experiences on this trip!

-Taylor Crum & Samara Schwartz

 

20 Junio 2017: Chitré

For our second clinical day, we drove to Rincón, a small town outside of Chitré to meet with University of Panama nursing students and visit homes in the community. These nursing students have been assigned to a family for the semester, and it was their last visit. We learned about each students’ case study regarding the family they were assigned to; it included a nursing care plan consisting of an assessment, nursing diagnosis, and interventions. We accompanied them to the homes and had the opportunity to observe the close bond these students had with the families. The Panamanian students gave them gifts as did we. When we parted ways there were many hugs and the families thanked them for all that they have done for them and their community. A couple of our Bull Nurses even received food as a thank you! It was a privilege to work alongside the Panamanian students and witness such an important aspect of health care as well as be welcomed into the homes of the Panamanian people.

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After a delicious lunch, we visited a primary school to help give immunizations to children ages one through four who are part of a program for children at risk in the community. Several children were able to receive vaccinations today, and several Bull Nurses were able to work on both their clinical and interpersonal skills. We interacted with other students in the school by playing ball, other games, and having conversations. The children stole our hearts!

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Afterwards, we visited a local artisan shop and enjoyed browsing, purchasing, and supporting the local artists. Experiencing another layer of the culture in Chitré was a great way to end our second day of clinicals!

 

– Julie de León and Jessica Korray

19 Junio, 2017: Chitré

Today was the big day, our first day of community health clinical in Panama!  We were divided into 3 different clinical sites: Chitré, La Arena, and Llano Bonito.  The clinics are all centrally located and easy to access by residents of the community.  We started off our day with introductions to the clinic staff and the student nurses from the University of Panama.  Everyone was so friendly and welcoming!  We were impressed by all the different types of services offered under one roof: from Women’s Health, pediatrics, vaccinations and general/acute medical care.  They had everything!

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At our clinic, La Arena, we got to experience a variety of things.  We did blood pressures, height and weights, as well as plenty of vaccinations and other IM injections on babies, adolescents, and adults.  Since the practice here is a little different than what we are used to in the US, we followed the same protocol like we learned at USF, where you “see one, do one”.  The Panamanian students would demonstrate first, with their instructor guiding them, and then we’d swap.  The University of Panama students were determined to help us get the best experience possible and they were eager to share with us their knowledge.  We were also eager to answer questions and explain more about nursing practice in the US.  The day also provided a great opportunity for us to utilize our Spanish language skills.

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It was very interesting to see how different the healthcare system is here in Panama, where they have such a big focus on primary care.  For example, the nurses try to educate patients on important health topics, such as diabetes prevention and management while they are visiting the clinic.  We even got to observe the University of Panama students do their service learning project on nutrition.  It was fascinating to see how their education was done out in the waiting area in front of a big group, and they encouraged the patients to implement these practices by passing around healthy snacks.

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 After lunch, we spent the afternoon collecting items to share with the families we will be visiting tomorrow.  The University of Panama students have been following these families health care for months, and are very familiar with their situations. It will be nice to see how close their relationships are and how personalized their treatment will be. Today was a great start to our clinical experience, and we’re looking forward to the days ahead!

¡Hasta mañana!

-Michelle Garcia & Tikisha McRae