Caring for patients at a government-run hospital in Tanzania forced nursing student Lexi Delaney to think critically with scarce resources.
Delaney, a BSN student at the University of Louisville School of Nursing, and Assistant Professor Paul Clark, PhD, RN, MA, recently returned from a month-long service learning trip to the East African country.
The trip, organized by the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, included students, faculty and staff from seven other colleges and universities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, and entailed providing care at hospitals and orphanages.
Improvisation became a necessity as the students worked in a labor and delivery ward, helped with minor surgeries and performed general exams, Delaney said.
Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income and patients have to bring their own supplies – including syringes, bandages and antiseptics – when they come to medical facilities for procedures.
Simple tasks, such as cleaning wounds, are a challenge.
“Usually antibiotic ointment or antiseptic is used, but patients would bring honey to have their wounds cleaned,” Delaney said. “Sometimes, we only had used washcloths and water to clean wounds because those were the only materials we could find in the room.”
Delaney said the challenging practice setting and working with patients of a different culture broadened her critical thinking skills in providing care. She encouraged other UofL students to participate in international service learning trips.
“It was just a great experience,” Delaney said. “Often in the states we take for granted the technology and medical advancements we have.”