Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Haiti: Day 4

Bonjour, etudiants!

The day began with a bang. We decided to meet with Hilda to get a better idea of how to proceed today, and how to proceed for the week. James, being the eager master of linguistics that he is, surprised me during the conversation. It went something like this. Me: “We’d like to have the students rotate with us in the clinic.” Hilda: “I was thinking they’d also have a more structured lecture.” James: “Great! How about today!” Hilda: “OK, the students will meet you in the classroom in an hour.” And thus, our first lecture was born.

Of course, we had been summoned early in the morning and, since there is always an AM battle for bathroom time, had not showered or gotten ready for the day. So we ran off to get ready…I also rushed to get a hard copy of some English/Kreyol teaching materials to pass around the classroom, highlighting some common trauma-related issues. James, relishing the opportunity to utilize his French, prepared to give the lecture. James, Ali and I made our way to the tent, and got ready.

We set up at a table that was set in the tent. As we set up, the students began to enter, carrying their chairs with them. I had them all sign in as they entered, so that I would have their names to set up their clinical rotation schedule. I was expecting 15-20 students. …but they just kept coming in! When it was all said and done, we had 44 students at the lecture. 18 freshmen, 7 sophmores, 6 juniors and 13 seniors. James was great giving the lecture, and he was most certainly enjoying being able to give a lecture entirely en Francais. He introduced some basic trauma-related concepts, and gave the students some ideas of what to look for, preparing them for their upcoming clinical rotations with us. Of course, our lectures and clinical preceptorship serve a dual purpose, as the students are not only clinicians, but survivors themselves of the January 12th tremblement de terre. If the students are open to it, we let them know that we are available for consultation.

During James’ lecture, I was creating a schedule for their psychiatry preceptorship. After the lecture, we took questions, and many of the students had questions, the most frequent one essentially being: Is it good to talk about the earthquake? We informed them that it can be helpful to talk about it if someone feels ready to do it, but that if a person is not ready, they should not be forced. Everyone has their own healing process, and it is generally not helpful if an individual is pushed. And in saying that, I am telling them that, they too are allowed to take things at their own pace. That point seemed well received.

We then dismissed the first and second year students, retaining the third and fourth year students to set up the schedule. Each of those students was to sign up for a four hour period to work with us in the clinic during the upcoming week. The shifts filled up pretty quickly, with our first students to begin that afternoon. We dismissed those students, apprised Hilda of the plan, and returned to the residence to prepare for clinic. Clinic went well…we got a chance to see several patients with our first two students, and teach them some psychopharmacology. Then, back to the residence for our one meal a day, all you can eat buffet…et une Prestige, bien sur.

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