At the end of my Elon Fellowship year at CRHP, the closest thing I could imagine to my ideal job was to become a Village Health Worker back home. During the first three years after I returned to North Carolina, I used what I had learned from the VHWs and Mobile Health Team to start a health and wellness program for construction workers stationed at job sites around the southeast. I loved the process of getting to know our employees, gaining their trust, learning about health problems they were facing and working alongside them to develop programs to meet those needs. Over time, however, I developed a desire to learn more clinical skills and decided to go back to school for nursing.
Ever since I left Jamkhed, I’ve been waiting for a window of time and a good excuse to come back. My time at CRHP heavily influenced my decision to become a nurse, and I’ve been excited to learn about community health from a nursing perspective rather than through the public health lens I had during my fellowship year. This December, almost five years after my last visit to CRHP, I had the chance to return as part of my global health nursing practicum with two of my classmates from nursing school.
Since a surgical camp took place recently, we have had the opportunity to learn about and do all types of dressing changes, including plaster casting, caring for skin grafts and suture and staple removal. On other days, we’ve gone with the Mobile Team to do blood sugar checks for the diabetes research that is ongoing in the villages. For me, one of the most meaningful parts of this practicum has been the chance to consider barriers to healthcare here and in the US, and how we as nurses can help break down cultural, linguistic and financial barriers to help improve patient access. It is also amazing to see through new eyes the skills that the VHWs have honed over the years which have been all but lost in the states, such as manual auscultation of fetal heart tones, and the ability to attend breech deliveries. I know Jamkhed will be a place I will always return to, to learn and to serve throughout my career. I could not be more thankful for the direction and inspiration this project has brought to my life, and I hope to follow the instruction of my friends and colleagues here when they tell me “lawkur ye,” come back soon.