Spending a month in the Bahamas was phenomenal. Honestly, there really isn’t a way to describe it in words; it’s something you have to just experience for yourself. Learning about diabetes in the Bahamas instead of in a stereotypical classroom setting forced me to really learn and understand the material so I could teach it in many different ways, whether it be different age groups or different learning styles. By fully immersing myself in the experience, I was able to also get a feel for how culture really played a role in the rate of diabetes in the Bahamas because I was seeing it first hand (I mean who wouldn’t want to eat and entire plate of peas and rice!). I was also inspired along the way by the various people we worked with and met. It was fascinating to watch and talk with the nurses in Nassau to see what their daily struggles were with their patients and how their jobs differed from those of nurses in the states as well as their similarities. It was also interesting talking with the patients in the assisted living places we visited and to experience the differences between the nursing homes I have worked in, in the states.
For all those future Bahamacats, my advice for you is to take every opportunity given to you even if it makes you nervous. Learn to trust in your classmates, seeing as those are the only people you will really be with for an entire month. Having said that, give everyone the benefit of the doubt and be aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses that you know of.
Overall, I believe I learned more during this one-month course than I have in any single semester at Linfield thus far. I learned not only about diabetes, working within another culture, working in another healthcare system, marine biology, and working with a small group of people for a long period of time, but also about myself, what really makes me happy, how I learn best, what makes me nervous or uncomfortable, what my strengths are, and where I want to start thinking about taking my future nursing career. Before this trip, I was considering taking a break from school to think a bit more about whether nursing was really something that I was interested in pursuing. I had completed the first semester of nursing school and had not found it interesting or fulfilling. After my first couple interactions with the nursing home residents and school kids in the Bahamas, I realized that maybe traditional nursing in a hospital or clinical setting was not for me, but that I really enjoyed the education part and the outreach that we were doing. If anything, I have walked away from this course with a new interest in nursing, but also in the future possibilities that are out there for me in the medical field that will challenge me to think of alternative ways of thinking about health and patient care.
Now that this trip is over and I have had a couple days to readjust and digest some of what I have experienced, (I will probably still be learning more about myself through this experience over the next couple months as I break down my memories further), all I can think about is going on another adventure! I can’t wait to explore more areas of healthcare in general, but also throughout the rest of the world. I must say, it was quite the culture shock to come back from the Bahamas, specifically Eleuthera with only a couple thousand people, to the Seahawks having won the super bowl and going to the parade that had 700,000 people in attendance. During the parade, I couldn’t help but think about the last month I had spent and how different the life I live here in the states is in comparison and if I am to be 100% honest, I could have spent a whole heck of a lot more time on Eleuthera! I’m still not ready to be back and face the next semester ahead of me, but it will be a lot easier knowing I have more adventures, like the one we just had, in my near future.