Most of my time here is spent working with Togolese nursing students. So, I thought I'd give you a little glimpse into what that looks like!
There are 20 students, and they are half way through their 3 year program. A new class starts every 4 years because they do not have enough faculty or space to train multiple classes at the same time. A new hospital is being built in northern Togo and this class of nursing students have all committed to move to northern Togo is they are needed to fill nursing positions in that hospital. Their week consists of 3 days of lecture and 2 days of clinicals. The students are from all different towns around Togo and move to the nearby villages of Tsiko or Adeta while they complete their nursing education.
Each day starts with prayer, singing, and Bible study. Here is a song in the Ewe language, I really enjoy hearing them sing, even if I can't sing along!
My role has been to work with them during their hospital clinicals. This is an interesting challenge as we have to communicate through a translator. The students all speak French as well as another tribal language. My translator also speaks another tribal language, so it's a blessing to be able to communicate with patients who speak many different languages! The students are very patient with me and if they know English they practice using it as much as possible! At this point, I have even been able to communicate a little in French, and have the students understand me!!!
I spend as much time in the pediatric ward as possible!!!
The day before the student's clinicals I search the whole hospital for patients that would provide a good learning experience for the students. Then prior to their clinical day, the students go to the hospital and research their patient so they are prepared to answer lots and lots of questions! After their clinical day, they have to write up dreaded nursing care plans. Fellow nurses know well what i'm referring to =) I then share the responsibility of grading these 20 care plans every week. Grading care plans has felt like an impossible task because they are all written in French. While I can now recognize quite a bit of French medical terms, in the beginning I knew nothing - imagine looking up every word =( Needsless to say, I have not even come close to grading my share of the care plans!!! Google translator has become a handy tool when I can get a good internet connection!!!
I also taught a short section on pediatric cardiology, and will teach a short section on pediatric respiratory coming up in a few weeks. We have also been working on different skills, one of those was injections! That was the brave director of the nursing school letting me demonstrate on her =)
The students have a lot of demands on their time and work very hard and desire to be excellent nurses. Outside of the nursing school, these students also have many demands and responsibilities, a few are married and have small children. You can imagine that even simple daily tasks can be complicated here in Togo - like cooking meals over a fire, walking 30-45 min. each way, and studying with the electricity frequently going out.
I consider it a priviledge to work with these students and have to opportunity to get to know them!!!!