Rediscovering the Right Way of Doing Things
Katherine Rich is a volunteer nurse at NPH Bolivia who’s had to adjust her views on life and healthcare in unexpected ways.
September 19, 2019 - Bolivia
While the transition to my new home had its obvious challenges—such as learning a new language and the 100 new names and faces I was sure I would never memorize—the biggest shock came when I began working in our small onsite clinic as the volunteer nurse.
As a recent nursing school graduate, I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in western hospitals and dealing with modern medicine. I was accustomed to having any and every resource readily available with just the click of a button or a quick phone call.
I naively thought those experiences had prepared me well for the work I would be doing at NPH; however, the realization of my naivety hit me on my very first day in the clinic when I was asked to administer an intramuscular gluteal shot for the first time. (Yes, that’s right, a shot directly in the upper buttock area.) This is not among the common forms of medicine administration you are taught in nursing school, but I quickly learned that it is a favored form of medicine administration here in rural Bolivia.
From cultural views on medicine to having to drive 30 minutes for more advanced medical services and to learning to pronounce the names of medicines in Spanish, my views of what I considered normal and “the right way of doing things” had to adapt. Because we are an isolated home and don’t have every medical resource readily available, we are always searching for innovative and efficient ways to care for our children and maintain their health.
Cultural differences and gluteal shots aside, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have here to expand my previously shallow and rigid mindset of what I thought healthcare should look like. I am learning that there is always a solution if you just look at the problem in a new light.
After eight months, I feel comfortable working in the clinic, even though I still learn something new every day. I am very thankful that I have been entrusted to care for the health and well-being of the kids here at NPH Bolivia and I am grateful for everything I have learned from them.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Check out available volunteer opportunities at nph.org .