On Tuesday we visited the Kilema Hospital! While it is a tough choice, the hospital was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. We arrived at 10am and met with the head doctor of the hospital. He gave us a warm welcome and we introduced ourselves and shared a bit about or project in Masaera. The majority of the morning was spent with another of the three doctors as he gave us an in-depth tour of the complex. First, we went to the medical records room where new patients are processed. Next we went to the three outpatient examination rooms, each with a small desk and an examination table. The three doctors alternate rotations in the outpatient clinic and they see around 150 outpatients every day! Next we visited the pharmacy. It was so exciting for us nursing students to recognize some of the medications! The pharmacist told us that they do not often run out of medications, which was great to hear. We also visited the X-ray room and laboratory, the technology available at the hospital was very impressive. We also visited the men’s and women’s general wards, which were somewhat small with large, ten-bed rooms. The other areas of the hospital included the maternity ward, the operating theatre, and the HIV ward. At the end of the tour, we exchanged information with Dr. Martin in hopes to keep in contact and possibly develop a continued relationship with the Kilema Hospital.
The tour of the hospital was extremely interesting, especially since I was able to compare and contrast with both hospitals in the United States and hospitals I visited when studying abroad in Namibia and South Africa. However, the facts and facilities at the hospital were not the most impactful aspect of the visit. One of the many things that struck me during the visit was how each and every hospital staff welcomed us so genuinely. Most everyone we came into contact with on the tour asked about us staying for a week or a month at the hospital. I was amazed that they would automatically want us to work with them and for such an extended amount of time. This was demonstrated the most that afternoon. While the engineers were meeting with some people in the village, the rest of us returned to the hospital after lunch and were welcomed to observe in the operating theatre. The five of us walked over and were greeted by a doctor waiting for his patient to be prepared. We talked with him for a bit and he eagerly agreed to let us watch him stitch up a head wound in the minor theatre. The experience was incredible! For most of us, it was the first operation we had seen, and the doctor was so happy to have us and explain everything he was doing and why that action was necessary. I am excited to compare my observation in Tanzania with what I will learn in classes and clinicals at Valpo.
While at the Kilema Hospital, I learned some valuable lessons from Tanzanian culture. I truly believe that sharing beliefs and practices can be some of the most beneficial lessons we can learn and I was so happy when the doctors and nurses wanted to learn about our practices and share their knowledge and expertise with us. A few of these Tanzanian lessons stood out to me while visiting the Kilema Hospital. For example, I saw how happy the nurses were in caring for their patients. I want to make sure that as I continue in nursing, I keep the passion and love for caring for others that first lead me to the career. I also saw how willing and excited the doctors were to take time and teach others about what they do; I want to have that attitude as I continue in this fast-paced, somewhat stressful profession. Many other lessons come to mind, which I am sure I will continue to realize as time goes on. I hope to have more experiences like that at the Kilema Hospital, whether in Eastern Africa, the United States, or another amazing part of the world and I am confident that each will bring its own share of rich experiences and lessons.