Thank You!

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to shadow a speech language pathologist in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This was an incredible experience because I was able to draw parallels from my maternity practicum last semester. We visited a private hospital, which had a brand new NICU and the latest medical treatments. For the most part, public hospitals cannot offer these services, so newborns from all over the country are transferred here. On Wednesday and Thursday, we researched for and composed our group presentations. The prompt was to create a program that addresses a specific preventative care need in Santiago and internationally. Our group chose to focus on obesity during pregnancy, which can lead to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postpartum infections, and macrosomia. In addition, it increases the risk that the child will develop diabetes or a cardiovascular disease during adulthood. We created a program called, One Stop, a bus-based mobile clinic that addresses obesity during pregnancy. Evidence-based studies have shown that frequent provider visits are one of the most important factors in preventing excess weight gain during pregnancy (Powell et al., 2012). Because low-income mothers have limited access to transportation, One Stop aims to bring the “frequent provider visits” to them. We based our interventions off of a successful Swedish study conducted by Wolff et al in 2008. The results highlighted the need for weight measurement, food diaries, and motivational communication during each patient visit. Women in the intervention group gained 14 pounds vs. 28 pounds in the control group (Powell et al., 2012). Because we finished early on Thursday, a few of my friends and I decided to hike Manquehue Hill. It took about 90 minutes to climb, but the views of the Andes were breathtaking. Unfortunately, the views of the smog were also very prominent. Santiago is surrounded by mountains, so the pollution becomes trapped over the city until a rainstorm. It was sobering to concretely see how humans are impacting our planet. Friday, we took a group tour to Concha Y Toro, the third-largest vineyard in the world. The scenery was amazing…and so was the wine. I enjoyed learning about the different techniques involved in analyzing a wine’s quality and characteristics. On Saturday, I had the privilege of visiting the Chilean Bethel Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’d like to thank Jason and Mary Reed for their hospitality and taking the time to give me a “mini-tour” of the facility. It was amazing to see the international unity of the translation and education work. Well, it’s come to the end of a very successful trip. Thank you to the U21 Staff for their hard work and to everyone who’s been following my trip on this blog! I can’t wait to see all of you soon. Until next time! – Jordan

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Source: Powell, J., & Hughes, C. (2012, May). Antenatal interventions that support obese pregnant women. British Journal of Midwifery, 20(5), 325-331.

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Days 8 and 9

Today, I visited the University’s School of Nursing, where we learned how to perform infant massages. I walked into the classroom a bit skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience. The scented candles, tea, and spa-like music contributed to a relaxing environment. I learned that massage has been shown to increase the analgesic effects of glucose, which could decrease an infant’s pain after unpleasant procedures like injections. In addition, studies have supported its effectiveness in improving the maternal-infant bond in mothers with postpartum depression. In the United States, we aren’t often exposed to alternative treatments and medications, so I was glad to have this experience. Thank you to the enthusatic nurses who took the time to instruct us today!! During our pharmaceutical lecture, we were reminded that herbal remedies are not free of side effects and interactions. St. John’s Wort, which is used to treat depression, interacts with over 800 known medications. For this reason, it is important to specifically ask patients if they are taking homeopathic medications when obtaining a history. Many patients do not think of herbal remedies as drugs and thus will not include them in a list of their current medications. This is a great reminder that I’ll use in my everyday practice. I can’t believe that tomorrow’s the last day of lecture before we begin group projects. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop throughout that process.

Days 6 and 7

After class on Friday, a few of my friends and I visited the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. The Museum depicts the horrific human rights violations that occurred during the military rule of Pinochet between 1973 and 1990. It was both a fantastic and sobering experience, as we learned that more than 35,000 individuals were tortured or killed during this era. The most meaningful part for me was seeing the dolls made by some of the prisoners to sell for basic supplies or remind them of their homes. We then took the metro (which I’m becoming a pro at using) to the Gran Torre Santiago, which is the tallest building in South America. The views of the Andes from the 62nd floor were breathtaking, and even the pictures below don’t do it justice. On Saturday, we visited Valparaíso, a seaside city that grew during the California Gold Rush. Travelers from Europe would stop in the city on their way to the United States. As a result, there is a blend of cultures. Some streets look like English harbors, while others have a Spanish influence. What I found interesting is the city has encouraged muralists to paint on public walls in order to reduce graffiti. I included an example of the murals below. As we speak, I’m sitting at the Jardín Circular and writing my blog while staring at the mountains. I’m going to go back to hiking, but I’ll talk to all of you tomorrow!

Valparaíso

View from the Gran Torre Santiago at Sunset

Human Rights Museum

Days 4 and 5

The past two days have focused on maternity and pediatrics, so last semester has come in extremely handy. On Wednesay morning, we discussed the nutritional requirements of pregnancy. We then analyzed an intriguing study that examined the relationship between maternal obesity and neonatal insulin resistance. Maternity may not be my specialty, but this will be such powerful information to include when educating young women about choosing healthy lifestyles. In the afternoon, we put our knowledge into practice by creating pregnancy meals. Each group was tasked with cooking a meal in under 1 hour – either breakfast, lunch, or dinner – using only the ingredients provided to us. We made a steak dinner with a salad, parfait, and low sodium mashed potatoes, which turned out amazing! Today, we visited a pediatric physical therapy clinic that serves low-income families. The PTs taught us about improvising when instructing parents about take-home exercises. Most individuals can’t afford expensive equipment, so the PTs have used everything from balls to printer paper when creating exercises. However, this doesn’t seem to impede progress, as the child I saw today is defeating the odds and is close to walking. I was truly amazed to see how similar children are across different cultures. The one-year-old I helped was wanting to be held and handing me toys just like the children I worked with back home. It’s almost as if they’re all blank slates before being enculturated. I’ve also learned about how controversial breastfeeding can be. An unusually heated debate broke out in class when the instructor said that children can breastfeed until 7 years of age. Most of the students argued against this, stating that even breastfeeding for a year is unrealistic and taboo in today’s society. One dentristy student from Santigo stated that her professors advise against breastfeeding after one year related to a risk of dental malocclusion. Tomorrow we’re going to be learning more about physical therapy in Chile, so I’ll be posting on the subject. Talk to you soon! – Jordan

Days 2 and 3

Hey everyone! I apologize for not posting yesterday. Our hotel’s wifi wasn’t working properly, so I bought a SIM card at the shopping center. We’ve had two days of lecture so far. There’s been a strong emphasis on small for gestational age (SGA) newborns. According to recent studies, SGA newborns are at an increased risk for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension during adulthood. However, this issue is cyclical because mothers with chronic health conditions tend to give birth to SGA infants. The dramatic increase in obese Chileans with multiple comorbidities is also contributing to this vicious cycle. I thought that this point was thought-provoking and highlights the importance of ensuring that females receive adequate health care before becoming pregnant. Also interesting was the fact that diabetes and obesity are more serious epidemics in developing nations rather than the United States related to the lack of nutritious food. We were able to take a tour of Santiago today. Seeing the Andes and Gran Torre Santiago (the tallest building in South America) was incredible! Getting stuck in rush hour traffic and stepping on a fish head, on the other hand, were….an experience. I’m looking forward to our first day of clinic tomorrow. My group is headed to the nutrition lab to create and cook meals for antepartum women. I’ll update you all soon. – Jordan

Day 1

I arrived in Santiago around 8 this morning after 14 hours of traveling. It was definitely an interesting flight. I sat next to a Chilean woman who has been a nurse for 46 years. She spoke very little English, but I managed to learn about her passion for helping others. She expressed that she loves caring for patients no matter how menial or unpleasant a task may be. For her, nursing comes directly from the heart. Not only was that conversation inspiring, but it also helped me to work on my Spanish (which, by the way, is an extremely necessary skill in Chile. I’m thankful that I was able to meet up with some Spanish-speaking students at the airport to negotiate our taxi fare). Talking with the other students has been incredible as well. We’re all from different countries and backgrounds, so it’s very interesting to share stories. It’ll be awesome to see how we interact in the clinical setting. The first day of the conference is tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted! – Jordan

Introduction

Hey everyone! My name is Jordan, and I’m a senior in the University of Connecticut’s School of Nursing. I’m attending the U21 Health Sciences Summer School in Santiago, Chile, from July 10th – July 24th.  I’d like to thank Professor Lisa-Marie Griffiths, Dr. Mikki Meadows-Oliver, and Dr. Dorothea Hast for this amazing opportunity. I’m very excited to be able to share all of my experiences with you. Feel free to comment or ask questions on any of my posts because I’d love to hear from everyone. I’ve included the U21 link below if you’d like to learn more about the program. Talk to you soon!

Link: http://u21health.org/summer-school-2016/