International Nursing Program in Tanzania 2015 – It's day 13 of a two week journey into Africa and this outstanding experience is drawing to a close. I have had the opportunity to travel to Mikumi with PN students. This has been a highlight of my career. The learning experience for me have been both professionally and personally rewarding. I have had the good fortune to work with an experienced team including Monique Wood, who is on her third trip to Africa and Kellie McMullin, a seasoned pro with many relationships in Tanzania. They have helped me navigate through unfamiliar territory, including my lack of conversational Swahili. Although it is supposedly an easy language to learn, I keep reverting to English and the few words of Spanish that I know.
Our students have demonstrated a high level of accountability and professionalism, as they have rolled with the inevitable punches that occur on a journey like this. Their commitment to learning is outstanding and their engagement in the process is noteworthy and can be a model to others. They have had an excellent experience in nursing that rivals that of any clinical experience in Nova Scotia. Personally, they have pulled together as a team. Early in the trip, "sharing and caring" became the motto and they have lived up to it each and every day. I am very proud of them and I hope they are equally proud of themselves.
This experience has allowed me to reconnect with patient care and nursing students in a clinical setting in a way that I have not done in many years. Many of the practices and equipment we've encountered is a reminder of an earlier time in my nursing career. While I have long forgotten some of these experiences, I'm happy to recall them now as we have adapted to changing conditions here. While these may have helped to ease some of the culture shock for me, it also has brought me a profound appreciation of the Canadian health care system, and I will go home with a changed perspective based on my experiences here. I have been deeply moved by the maternal death rate here. The obstetrician describes the rate here as 1:16 and it apparent that there are risks for mothers here that we have safeguarded against at home. We have been told that the newborn death rate is 1:20. On a more positive note, our work has shown us that the majority of babies under 3 years are health, thriving and happy.
I will leave Tanzania with great respect for the people and I look forward to the opportunity to return in the future.
NSCC Waterfront Campus