By Erin Ward
My trip to Thailand served as a wonderful enhancement on my nursing education. Not only was I able to complete hands on assessments, but I was also exposed to many different health problems that I have not encountered in the states. My experience thus far with nursing has always been in a controlled setting. I am either in the classroom for lecture, or shadowing a nurse in the hospital. Being placed in a rural environment with limited access to medical supplies, textbooks, and a language barrier on top of that truly made me draw on a nursing “touch” that I didn’t know I possessed. I have heard that when trying to learn a new language, one day it will click and you will actually start thinking in that new language instead of continuously translating in your head. For me, nursing school has been like trying to learn a new language. While I am at the hospital or in lecture, I am constantly trying to sift through the mass amounts of material in my head, trying to translate my book knowledge into my work as a nurse on the floor. This trip made something click for me with nursing. It was the first time that I have been placed in full control of a clinical situation; it made me learn to think like a nurse, observe like a nurse, and interact like a nurse.
This trip also exposed me to health care on a global scale, which is knowledge that I had lacked prior to the trip. I was able to compare health care in the states to health care abroad and see where we had exceeded and where we were lacking. I am not convinced that Western medicine, for all of its technology, is superior to health care systems in other countries. It was interesting to see their different priorities and methods; this exposure will hopefully allow me to incorporate a more holistic approach in my future career as a nurse. It also opened up to me the possibility of incorporating global health nursing into my future career, which is a path I had never considered. I loved my experience with global health on this trip and I know that it will continue to impact where and how I work from here on out. I think that I will remember this trip for years to come as the pivotal point in which I gained confidence in my abilities as a future nurse, and excited about the career that I have chosen for myself.