In March, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awarded internship grants to Wesleyan students planning to spend their summers pursuing experiences in diverse fields of social change. Each grant recipient was asked to report back on his/her work with blog posts and photos. Here’s one, a report from Jackie Freed ’15, a pre-med Psychology and Science in Society major who spent her summer at Chisang Clinic in Bhaunne, Nepal. Read other PCSE grant recipient blog posts here.
This summer, I received a Summer Experience Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship to volunteer at Chisang Clinic in Bhaunne, Nepal. The Clinic primarily focuses on providing care to women, children and infants. While I was unable to provide much hands-on assistance due to lack of training and experience, I arrived with two overweight suitcases full of donated supplies. I learned many useful skills such as how to take blood pressure manually, administer nebulizer treatment to infants, check blood sugar levels using a glucometer, and carry out a basic survey. What I consider to be the most important services the clinic provides are wound care (including tetanus shots and sutures if needed), house calls to post-surgery patients who require daily wound redressing, and family planning services such as Depo Provera shots. Nepali hospitals require that a family member or caretaker stay in the same city or town as the hospital to provide food for the patient, meaning that the total cost of a hospital visit includes transportation (usually by ambulance or taxi), lodging for the family or caretaker, food, and the actual treatment itself. The Clinic allows patients to return home sooner because they can receive the necessary post-op care from the health assistant and lab assistant who live and work in Bhaunne. Furthermore, many patients are persuaded to get unnecessary tests such as an ultrasound on their brain that does not reveal any practical information, just for the sake of making money off of patients who do not know better and cannot advocate for themselves.
I was also given the opportunity to travel to the tea gardens in Ilam, the clinic’s second location in the hills of Dhankuta, the village of Taplejung, a very old suspension bridge in the hills (pictured in the photo), Chitwan National Park, and Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha). In addition to these places, a family friend in Kathmandu arranged for me to visit a premier hospital in the city as well as some hospitals, government clinics and health posts in nearby Bhaktapur, and several World Heritage Sites. Overall, the experience gave me a broad look at Nepal’s healthcare system and insight into my own future career. I am currently pre-med, but now I am considering becoming a doctor with a focus on integrative medicine or a nurse practitioner because I enjoyed the hands-on patient interaction I experienced at the clinic.
My final reflections from Nepal:
We are incredibly blessed and live very privileged lives here at Wesleyan. Before the trip, I kept thinking to myself, “Why do people love the US so much? Why is this place still the land of opportunity?” And I realized that part of the appeal comes from how comfortable we are. From the size of our cars, to the quality of our roads, to our relatively easy access to healthcare, to the lack of serious weather such as a monsoon season, we are very comfortable. Having a hot shower every night without a bunch of insects flying in to the bathroom because they are attracted to the light is nice. A western toilet that doesn’t smell like a toilet is a luxury. Being able to eat anything we want, whenever we want, makes us spoiled. And don’t get me started on AC and washing machines! So, I return the US very grateful for my supportive family, beautiful home, progressive education, and general comfort level that I didn’t know I was privileged enough to be born with. Furthermore, I am even more motivated than ever to have a career in the medical field and provide quality, affordable, ethical care to those who do not have access to it. I hope to return to Bhaunne in a few years so that I can be more of service to the friends and family I now have there.