Paige Pearson from Tulane University
For my blog post, I thought I’d take you through a typical clinical observation morning and school day here at UB. When I initially registered for the Community Public Health program, I was worried I wouldn’t be qualified to do the clinical observation component of the curriculum. I have found it to be accessible to people pursuing a variety of majors and with a range of medical knowledge.
Let me explain a little bit about clinical observation first. The objective is to get an understanding of Botswana’s public clinic system by sitting in on consultations, touring the facilities, and interacting with medical staff. We are typically sent out to the clinics in pairs, which I really appreciate because I don’t have to do the commute alone and can compare my observations with my partner. Each pair rotates to a new clinic every three weeks; in total, we will each see four different clinics during our time here. Here is what one of my clinic days is like.
6:00 AM: Alarm clock goes off.
6:35 AM: I meet Ariana, my clinic partner, in the hallway between our rooms. We walk to the combi stop by campus together while I eat oatmeal and get strange looks from the people who pass us.
6:50 AM: Ariana and I get into a taxi, going to Station. Most of the clinics in the rotation require just one taxi or combi ride, but the clinic we’re currently visiting requires us to change at Station because it’s a little farther from campus.
Wearing my white coat in an (empty) consultation room
7:30 AM: We arrive at the clinic right before the staff begins to see patients. We are allowed to choose between observing general consultations, the child welfare clinic, vitals, IDCC (Infectious Disease Care Clinic), and the sexual and reproductive health areas. At this time, Ariana and I usually split up— some of the other students choose to observe together, but we feel it’s better if there is just one of us in the consultation room at a time.
8:00-9:30 AM: I usually divide my time at the clinic between Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and general consultations or IDCC. This morning at SRH is fairly typical; I observe several routine antenatal check ups and a consultation on contraception.
9:30-9:45 AM: I head over to the IDCC area. I watch four HIV patients have blood drawn for liver function, viral load, and CD4 cell count tests before feeling queasy and excusing myself from the room. Sometimes I feel like I could totally see myself working in a clinic, and this is not one of them.
9:45-11:30 AM: I spend the rest of my morning in the IDCC consultation room, where a doctor is reviewing test results and drug regimens with patients.
11:30 AM: Ariana and I leave the clinic and head back to campus for lunch and classes. We have lunch together at Moghul, the cafeteria near the main academic buildings.
1:00-3:00 PM: Africa in World Politics Lecture
Emily and Daniela practicing dialogue in Setswana
3:00-4:00 PM: CIEE Setswana class
4:00-5:00 PM: CIEE Community Health Practicum class. This class serves to relate what we’re observing in clinic to Botswana’s health care system and to educate us about the major health concerns in this country.
I hope this was informative for those of you who were curious about the CPH program! For the most part, I enjoy visiting the clinics, especially when I can talk to medical staff. Observation has also given me a unique way to learn more about what life is like for Batswana, since the health care system here serves everyone.