A Day of Mixed Emotions

Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 28, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, January 10, 2011

Today we were up before the sun. Breakfast was served at 7 am. We had the typical American breakfast. At 7:45 am we joined the students for the morning ceremony. Students gathered on the front courtyard of the administration building. Thai students wore their classroom uniforms today which included a white shirt, a black skirt, black dress shoes and their name pin. Hair was pulled up and everyone looked so formal. My students wore their clinical uniform as today was their first day at the Nakornping Hospital. The morning ceremony lasted about 15 minutes. They began by raising the Thai flag and singing the Thai anthem. This was followed by a time of Buddha worship. Everyone speaks in unison so I believe it is a prayer they are saying. They then turn toward the faculty who are standing elevated at the stairwell of the administration building. The students, in unison, say something to the faculty. Teachers in Thailand are called "Ajon". They are highly respected as they are the ones who mold and shape a person for life. At this time they open the floor for someone to come to the front and share something "good" that they performed. In Thai culture doing "good" and making people "happy" are key to life. Robert, a Thai buddy from last year, got up and spoke about how he served as the MC of the fundraiser event at the Red Cross Fair. The floor was then opened up for a MC student to share. Laurissa was the brave one for day. She did very well despite her anxiety. I was then asked to share something to the students. I thanked them for their hospitality and sharing their home with us for the next 3 weeks. The faculty then discussed the new Thai law which now requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet. This has always bothered me because no one here wears helmets and there could be 3 -4 people on a small scooter. They weave in and out of traffic and make their own "lanes" of traffic. Motorcycle accidents are the #1 cause of trauma in Thailand and I understand why. BCNC is encouraging the nursing students to be a role model for people. If the student is found not wearing a helmet the school will confiscate their scooter/motorcycle. So, they are taking this law very serious.

Following the ceremony the MC students were taken by van to the Nakornping Hospital. This morning the students are meeting with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss total knee replacements. Students will then be divided into 2 sections. Each section is given a 2 hr. block of time observing the Operation Theater (total knee replacement) and the Labor & Delivery Ward. Based on previous years, I know they are going to have a good time.

Students are back from the hospital for lunch. We had som tom, pad thai, and fruit. It was a very delicious national Thai meal. The students reported that they had a good morning at the hospital. The orthopedic surgeon gave his lecture and then prepared them for the OR. The students were so impressed with the generosity of the physician and staff. Students were given permission to photograph during the surgery. Both sections observed a total knew replacement. The students were taken back by the fact that they dressed in OR scrubs, wore face mask, head coverings, gloves and then open toed flip flops. One section of the group had the opportunity to see a vaginal delivery. Apparently the baby was passed from one student to another for an up and close picture.
Following lunch we went to the Chiangmai Ram Private Hospital. This is the first time for this visit. It came as a suggestion from last year's students. The afternoon was spent comparing and contrasting public health care and private health care as well as Thai health care and American health care. I believe the statistics that were shown said approx 12,000 Americans were admitted to the hospital in 2009. Other common cultures included Japan, Korean, German, and a few others. The hospital environment was much better than the public hospital. On the international ward, each patient has a private room and an American style restroom. The hospital environment with its equipment reminded me of health care in the USA from back in the the 70's but higher technology. Patient are provided the internet during their stay. A couple of nice things that we discovered is that the hospital has very few medication errors. They have a centralized robot in the pharmacy that bags all of the med d/t patient at the prescribed times. The meds are then checked again by each pharmacist on each floor. The nurse is then responsible to administer them to the patient. They are also in the midst of adding the nursing part of the documentation to the electronic software. This should complete the entire electronic health record. We completed our tour with a group picture

We arrived back on campus just in time for the students to have a 2 hour preparation time for the Khantoke Dinner. They had time to shower, get dressed and finish their hair. The Thai buddies prepared their formal traditional Thai attire, applied make-up and fixed their hair with Thai ornaments. They looked absolutely beautiful. They were so stunning that when we arrived at the restaurant the general manager approached us and wanted to take pictures of everyone so he could post them in his restaurant. Some people were not sure if we were part of the show or not. Still others, and a large number at that, asked the students if they could pose with them to get pictures. The students were so shocked. It got to be ridiculous as so many people wanted pictures with them. The students later commented that if they knew it was going to be like that, they would have tried to earn back their money for the trip and charged people 100 baht/photo. It was rather humorous at how the audience responded to them.

This year we went to a new restaurant for the Khantoke Dinner. It was absolutely beautiful. We arrived at the restaurant around 7 pm. It had begun sprinkling so we sat under the roof rather than out in the open. We sat on a platform with a large hole in front of us. We hung our legs over the hole so that we were at table height. The modern khantoke was invented by a well known business man and Lanna Thai scholar over 30 years ago. The diners often enjoy the experience of sitting cross-legged on the floor, sampling Northern cuisine from a shared khantoke tray and enhanced with Northern classical dances. Some of the dances we observed were the Khantoke Parade, the Candle Dance, The War Dance with Drums, the Tee Dance, the Hill Tribe Dance, the Sueng Ka-pho Dance, the Sward Dance and the Ram Wong Dance. At the end of the performance the audience was invited to join the dancers on the stage as we all performed the traditional Thai dance. The students had a lot of fun. It will be an experience they will never forget.

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Sara Mueller on

That sounds like a wonderful day!!! The hospital trip sounded really neat. To see a surgery and a birth all in one day is quite an experience! ... We are all doing well here and enjoying our work experiences! Everyone I have talked with loves what they are doing and is learning a lot! Every break I get I sneak away to the nursery and hold a little baby! I feel very blessed and am so glad God seems to be pouring out the blessings with your group as well! Tell the girls I said hi! We miss you all!

sonia_suwannee@hotmail.com on

I'd like to join with you mak mak. Happy to read your writing about good events in BCNC. See you next week at Mae On village na kha.

Karen Celenza on

You're keeping those students busy, that's for sure. It's a few days in now, so I bet people are getting tired! Morning ceremony, 2 hospitals AND Khantoke!? Wowser! I wish I were there so bad! The warmth, not only in temperature, but also the warmth of the Thai people. Love reading the blog and reliving my experiences there. Maybe next year....

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