Medicine & Healthcare, Nursing in Nepal by Katie Musolino
Hello, my name is Katie Musolino, I am a registered nurse from Australia who currently works as an Endoscopy Nurse Manager of a day surgery department for a large public hospital in Adelaide. I have been a registered nurse for over six years and have lived and worked in both Australia and London during this time.
I am 31 yrs old and have recently got married to a wonderful man this past December. So what I am doing in Nepal you may ask, if I just got married? Trust me I have asked myself this question many times and the best answer I have is life moves quickly and it gets to a point that if you don’t do what you’ve always dreamed of doing NOW, then chances are, you never will and the moment will pass you by. So, I got on a plane, and now you know why my husband is wonderful, he wished me luck, and away I went!
I have always been interested in visiting magical Nepal with its alluring charm of mountains (ok, treks I actually had no intention of doing, but here they are amazing), gentle natured people, meditation and yoga lessons, and good food. I love to travel and joining Projects Abroad allowed me to combine my two loves, travel and nursing – perfect!
I was to be here volunteering for two months, and at my request I wanted to split my placement in two and spend a month in Chitwan and a month in Patan. I wanted to experience two different locations and two different types of medical institutions. Chitwan was up first. I started my placement at the large teaching hospital – Chitwan Medical Centre.
I spent my first two weeks here varying my time between Endoscopy and Emergency. I was fortunate enough to also attend couple of health camps in these first two weeks. Health Camps are when a few nurses and doctors travel to a more remote area in the community and set up a ‘mock’ clinic for the day/week, administering free medications and free medical consultations ranging in specialties. Very quickly I learnt that this is what I wanted to do full time, I immediately loved it and realized this community work is what I came here to do.
After discussions with the Projects Abroad team I began full time work at Piple Health Post. Piple is situated about 1.5 hours out of Chitwan, in a town called Gadauli. I would take the local bus daily and pass the scenic countryside loving the journey as much as the destination.
Piple health is a District Health Department Supported Health Clinic. There a seven staff members all together. One Health Assistant – Supervisor/In-charge, Four midwives (not trained nurses, midwives only) and two out of the four midwives live onsite. There is also one VHW – Village Health Worker and one Office Help worker.
Piple Health Post runs a number of services on a weekly basis and is open 24 hours a day to emergency deliveries only. Outpatient services and family planning are run five days a week and every Tuesday is the antenatal clinic. Piple Health Post sees all patients, male and female, the majority of whom live in the surrounding rural area. Infants, toddlers, teenagers, adults and the elderly are all seen and treated on a daily bases.
The clinic has a moderate supply of medications for children and adults (antibiotics, creams, ointments, contraceptive pill, vaccinations, Vitamins etc), which allows the clinic to be able to treat a varied range of illness and complaints. There is also a basic supply of medications to treat local issues such as ring worm, infestation worms, diarrhoea and vomiting, scabies, asthma etc) The Health Department supplies the clinic with 35 free medications and deliveries are regular. There is also a basic supply of wound dressing material also supplied by the Health Department.
Examples of some types of illness/cases treated at Clinic are as follows – all issues related to pregnancy – mother and child, family planning administration of medication and counselling, tonsillitis, thrush, ring worms, infestation worms, asthma exacerbation and onset, chest infections, common cold, all wounds/dressings – cuts, burns, lacerations, gastritis, nausea & vomiting and basic pain management. The approach to care is mirrored to that of the World Health Organizations ‘Integrated Management of Childhood Illness’.
The role of the volunteer is to perform all medical tasks within their scope of practice. Actively treating and assisting in all levels of care. General nursing skills are utilized daily such as patient assessment, investigation, documentations, administration of medication, wound dressing, counselling and patient education. All performed in collaboration with the other nurses, you are never alone!
Piple Health Post is a wonderful, challenging and rewarding placement for any volunteer who wants to actively use their skills to treat all members of the Nepali community. It is also wonderful to work for an institution that delivers free medical treatment and medication to those community members who live remotely and would otherwise not get the care they require. For many skilled volunteers, it is this experience they are looking for, it definitely was for me!