It is only day 2 in Belize and what an adventure it has been so far! It felt like we were never going to arrive as our trip here sent us on a few detours.
We ended up with an amazing group of people, all who share a common goal of wanting to make a difference in the lives of the individuals in Punta Gorda. I would say that so far, we are meeting our goal in every way, shape and form!
Day one for me was at Hillside Health Clinic where I had the opportunity to work in the pharmacy side by side other student pharmacists and a pharmacy technician ( who is from Belize and is an officially trained pharm tech! ) It was really neat to see how the pharmacy operated. They do not use pill bottles so all patient medications are distributed in plastic baggies with hand written labels taped to the outside. There is not double check on prescriptions so it encouraged me to be extra cautious that I was picking out and packaging the proper medications! The shelves of medications are arranged by drug class rather than in alphabetical order so if I didn't already know this before, I had to learn which class each drug was in in order to be as fast, efficient, and accurate as possible. There is rare to no distribution of narcotics at Hillside. Most of what I saw being distributed was medications for diabetes, fungal infections and parasites and pain medications such as tylenol and ibuprofen. It was really neat to see how they could make do with what they have and every patient who needed treatment did not leave without receiving it! I observed how many of the patients who have been visiting Hillside long term really put trust and faith in their health care providers because Hillside has such a wonderful reputation of helping each and every person in need.
I also had the opportunity to do a few home visits in the town of Punta Gorda. A few of the nurses, med students and a pharmacist will travel into the town to see patients who are not mobile enough to make it to the clinic. It was a real eye opener to see how many of the patients live. The living conditions are so different from what we are used to in Canada. It makes me really appreciate what I've got.
I think the biggest thing that I can take from this experience so far is the way that I have managed to adapt to such different ways of living, a completely different environment and people and learning to be able to live without all the necessities that we take for granted back home! My hope is that my ease to adapt in new environments and with new people will serve me well in pursuing my career job. I am excited to see what the rest of this adventure will bring!
Pharmacy Technician Program Student
NSCC Waterfront Campus