This week I had an absolutely awesome opportunity (say that 10 times fast) to visit the International Medical Clinic (IMC) in Almaty. Through the wonderful connections both Chris and I have created in Kazakhstan, I was able to get in contact with a physician who works at IMC, along with his wife and three other providers, to get a chance to see how things work at the clinic.
The clinic is run by a group of family physicians, along side several nurses, whose goal is to provide up to date, western standard medical care. All of the physicians speak English and have had some western medical training. They emphasize preventative care for all ages, especially families and they are located right in the city.
A frustration that Dr. Sasha conveyed to me was the training of nursing in Kazakhstan. He explained that they have equal years of education compared to American nurses; however, they lack clinic experience. Even in basic nursing skills. For example, at Saint Joe’s we begin clinic hours at the beginning of our second year of school and this was a huge focus of our education. Patient contact and the emphasis on how important it was to get out of the classroom and into patient care settings. This is unfortunately not the norm everywhere in world. He expressed his desires to have his nurses get more training, especially from western medical professionals. From this conversation, I was able to set up a time to return to the clinic a few days later.
I spent an entire afternoon working with two IMC nurses and their fabulous receptionist. An area of growth for them is blood draw and IV placement. I was able to work with them on:
-Ideal placement for IV placement and blood draws
– IV placement techniques/blood draw techniques
– IV fluids and calculating drip rates by hand (no IV pumps here! My fellow SJC nurses can appreciate this…I actually had to use this seemingly useless skill we had countless tests on!)
-Basic IV site care and how to remove them safely
I will say the hardest part about placing the IVs was the supplies. Some were made in China, others in Germany, and others in the United States. We really had to pay attention to the packaging and make sure we were using the correct needles. This was true for all of the supplies we used. This gave me a great perspective on medical supplies. In the states, we take for granted that we will always have the supplies we need to do our jobs and take care of people. This isn’t the case everywhere.
Because it is my passion, I also did some teaching on EKGs and correct placement on the body. The receptionist was our main guinea pig for this stuff but more amazingly, EVERY doctor let us use BOTH of their arms to actually place IVs in their arms. You could tell that they were really invested in their nurses learning these tasks and that they really respected the nursing role as well. It was just awesome to see. It was also very humbling for me to come across the world with my focus being mostly on basketball and to be surprised by the opportunity to use my love of taking care of others and of nursing in an unexpected place.
For those of you who don’t know, I am also currently in grad school, working towards becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. So, having the ability to see the inter-workings of a doctor’s office outside the U.S. was just an awesome experience. I took away just as much and learned just as much from this one afternoon as the great people at IMC did.
Here is their website for anyone who is interested!
More to come from Chris and I soon!