Friday, February 18, 2011

The nursing staff here is sort of hilarious.

They are predominantly male, very friendly, and very eager to learn.  They have many questions and I often feel frustrated by the language barrier…their questions are excellent and completely pertinent to what they are doing but it is so difficult to adequately explain concepts and really just ANSWER the freakin’ question because of the language thing.

(And I keep trying to talk to people in Spanish, which is clearly my default second language….oh, except when I want to say thank you…the Russian word for that always tries to come out).

There are also so many of them, the Iraqi nurses, five or six a shift it seems…and their professional relationships are quite jovial to say the least.  Very social bunch for sure.  And it typically takes two of them to ask a question…which works out pretty well since between three people, one who know zero Arabic (aside from how to say “thank you”) and two who speak a small amount of English, we can usually get the point across with a great deal of gesturing and calculating things together on paper. 

Another interesting feature of how they “roll” here is that everything becomes a discussion...sometimes a very lengthy discussion.  “Will you please give [fill in med here]” will often result in two to four people discussing the med, the dose, and who knows what else before finally getting it into the patient…a process that can take between five minutes and two hours.  General questions are much the same way.  Two people ask a question, get the answer, then go off presumably to discuss the answer at length among themselves and either come back for clarification or find a new person to ask the same question.  The other day I tried to answer, in the most simple English possible, the difference between epinephrine and norepinephrine…and I am pretty sure I was the third person answering the question. 

Last night, I had a pretty sick little one who needed a ton of intervention.  Blood and plasma transfusions, multiple doses of calcium and sodium bicarbonate, a new arterial line (go Pasha!), titration of epi and norepi, various other scheduled medications, etc, etc, etc.  It was a busy night with a fragile baby for sure.  And while I understand fully on an intellectual level that the goal of this mission is teaching, it was quite the challenge to delegate all these tasks to my Iraqi counterpart.  When I get stressed I tend to just want to do everything myself…but my nurse tonight was quite on top of things and followed every direction perfectly.  He also asked me some great questions…I just wish I could do a better job answering those great questions. 

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