Friday, 24 July 2015

Teaching and Learning

(By Alyssa)


Sad to say goodbye to this great group of peds interns who have been working with me for the past 2 months. They have certainly made my job easier as they have worked hard, studied diligently, and cared for patients compassionately. And I was especially proud of them today as they rose to the challenge of teaching nutrition to our malnutrition service. Fifty to seventy patients continue to come to the hospital twice per week for our outpatient malnutrition program. These children suffer from hair loss, swelling, apathy, skin changes, and other evidence of both acute and chronic malnutrition. And in this country with extreme poverty and a falling economy due to the political situation, it’s hard to know how to teach the mothers about foods that are both nutritious and affordable. Most of the medical students grew up in the city in more affluent families, so it can sometimes be difficult for them to relate to our rural, impoverished patient population. But they related admirably today. They had previously researched what foods were available in the community and for what price and then they asked questions while they taught the mothers about the foods included in a balanced diet. Protein is the hardest food for these patients to find as was confirmed today. Only two or three mothers raised their hand when asked if they could buy eggs for their children (eggs cost 10 cents each) and few had access to milk. But many could buy the tiny salted fish that come from Lake Tanganyika, so that was helpful to discover. Peanuts are also readily available. The mothers asked questions as well such as whether to add salt during or after cooking or what kind of oil to use. It was great to see them engaged and responsive to the presentation. I do hope for more for these precious patients - more food, more education, more growth, more opportunities - but I’m thankful today for the hope for the future reflected in the medical students as they taught, learned, and cared thoughtfully in a challenging situation. 



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