Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Night Shift

Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital main entrance in Mukono town.
Imagine this:
It's 6:00pm on a Friday night. The sun is setting behind Mukono hill, and campus is quieting down for the weekend. Homestay students are headed for the gates of UCU, home to their families for the weekend, and on-campus students are headed down to the dining hall for dinner. But you're a Global Health student and you're about to embark on a 12-hour hospital night shift. You have the name of the nurse midwife and the doctor on call, and so you pull on your USP Global Health student scrubs, grab a cup of coffee--and head into town with a friend for your first night shift at the Church of Uganda Mukono Hospital.

As part of the Global Health Emphasis, all students do a 150-hour internship at a local healthcare organization in Uganda. USP partners with a diverse array of organizations offering internships in a variety of areas and specialties like nutrition, maternal health, physical therapy and geriatric care. The Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital, located in close proximity to Uganda Christian University, has a long-standing relationship with USP and is a significant part of the Global Health Emphasis. It is the internship site for several GHE students in any given semester, students taking Microbiology do their lab at the hospital, and others take the unique opportunity to shadow doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff from 7:00pm— 7:00am: The Night Shift. Over the twelve-hour shift, students experience what it's like to work at a hospital overnight and the diversity of cases that keep a hospital busy around the clock.

It's 2:00am. Since you arrived at the hospital, you've been in the operating theatre during an emergency C-section, a nurse has explained her perspective on the cultural and socioeconomic complexities of maternal health in Uganda, and you've taken tea with the surgeon on call. You're about to take a brief nap on a hospital cot when a patient comes in to the emergency department with a broken leg from a motorcycle accident. Adrenaline infuses your body with life again as you help the hospital team to care for this emergency. At the end of the night, you collapse in the back of the USP van as it travels back up the hill to UCU, exhausted but with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the work of nurses and doctors throughout the long night hours. 

Spending a night at the hospital is an unique opportunity in many ways. When it's busy, you are able to observe procedures you may not be able to during the day. When it's slow--and it often is--you have the opportunity to spend real time with Ugandan healthcare professionals, learning through conversation and quality time in the wee hours of the night. The night shift at Mukono Hospital is above all a time to practice presence, being with patients who are in pain, being with health care professionals as they care for the patients, and being open to whatever happens--or doesn't happen--during a normal 12-hour day shift at the hospital.

Whether learning about maternal health on a night shift or sitting under a Mango tree learning about clean water, the Global Health Emphasis brings together observation, experience, and academic coursework with the goal of transformational learning.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

In Recognition of Social Work Supervisors

This week's blog is guest-written by Lisa Tokpa, the Social Work Coordinator for Uganda Studies Program. Lisa maintains relationships with all the organizations where USP social work students intern, teaches the social work practicum class, and supports social work students during their time at USP. You also may be lucky enough to end up in one of her general studies practicum classes! Thanks Lisa!

“You will know your vocation by the joy that it gives you.” 
~ Dorothy Day
Every semester USP students embark on an adventure marked by growth that can only happen through relationships. One of these key relationships is between students and their supervisors. For senior social work students conducting at least 400 practicum hours, this relationship has even more potential to be transformative. But this doesn’t come without work. Just like any relationship, it takes honest communication and time, but can reap rewards even beyond expectations.

Fall 2018 Social Work Practicum Site Supervisors.

Before students step foot in Uganda, supervisors gather together to connect and learn from one another’s experiences supervising American social work undergraduate students. It’s not an easy thing -- connecting with and teaching students from a very different context with expectations that have been forming over years, seeing exciting growth as they fully invest in one student who all-too-quickly leaves to make way for the next. But these professionals keep committing to a process that we are all committed to at USP – teaching the next generation the value of difference and diversity, and how to effectively engage in a globalized world. 

Working in the midst of incredible suffering, students are challenged by the joy that is emitted by these Ugandan mentors. With fascination, they can’t help but ask, “How do you keep going?” Supervisor’s responses, both verbal and in action every day, teach students about the power of community, humility in acknowledging our limitations, sustaining compassion, and continuing to be joyful in this broken world.  

We, as USP, are incredibly grateful to these amazing people who continue to be patient with our students, investing in their learning every day, and inspire them with a joy that cannot be explained. 

“I have learned so much about social work in Uganda and just being a social worker in general through my supervisor and coworkers. My supervisor is a strong, courageous woman who knows who she is and what her mission is in life. She has deep passion for working with children through Compassion and specifically for working with their mothers and fathers to ensure that their family is healthy and able to make the best life for them. She challenges me to be bold when working with clients and she has showed me how to deal with social issues related to Ugandan families, specifically domestic violence, within this cultural context. I want to be like her when I “grow up”. Social work practice here looks like a family welcoming you into their home, sitting with them in the comfort of their own house instead of in an office setting, maybe hitting guavas out of the guava tree in their yard and checking out their pigs and sheep, as well as maybe leaving their home with a giant papaya or stalk of sugar cane. They [co-workers] teach me to relax a little more in my role as a social worker; being open to the families we are working with while also maintaining professional boundaries.” 
 ~Suzanna Knarr (Senior SWE)
Suzanna and her supervisor Liz Nanseko.
"Doing my practicum at Kisoga Child Development Center has become my second home here in Uganda. My supervisor Miriam has helped me gain confidence to be open and comfortable when working with diverse clients. She shows humility to everyone she encounters and it is truly inspiring to see the hard work she does for her clients. She is so personable and relatable, and she plays a big part in my growth in the field of social work. "
~Kasey Wood (Senior SWE)

Kasey and her supervisor, Miriam Kiwanuka.

"When Rose greets someone, she greets them with love. When she speaks to someone, she speaks to them in love. When she is present with people, she is present in love. Over the past months I have had the opportunity to encounter what it means to love on a deeper level from my supervisor, Rose. From highlighting the importance of connections in relationships throughout the healing journey of patients and families, to being open about the concern for the well being of all people that walk through Acheru's doors; whether they are in the age bracket or not; Rose is present in love. Over the course of this semester, we have been using language around who our "monks" are while we are here in Uganda. These monks can be classified as people who accept and invite you on this season of life with them and guide you along patterns of living in Uganda. Rose has been a monk to me, and I am so grateful for her insight, humility, and presence of love as I venture on this pilgrimage through life in Uganda."
~Hannah Wagar (Junior SWE) 

Hannah Wagar and her supervisor, Rose Nakabugo at Acheru.