Our day began with hearing from James and Aldo about public health. They explained that public health is both an art and a science. I though this was interesting because I had never thought of it as an art before. Public health is about preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts of society. They explained that preventing disease is important, but so is maintaining health when you are already healthy. Also, there are many aspects to health, and it has to be looked at holistically. Health includes physical health, mental health, and social well being. It is not just the absence of disease. I think this is important, and I can apply it to my own life. Sometimes, my physical health is fine but my mental health is struggling. When my mental health is struggling, I have a tendency to isolate myself which causes my social health to suffer. It is important to find a balance between physical health, mental health, and social health in order to be truly healthy. Furthermore, they talked about how important preventing disease is. There are three levels to treating disease that include primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary includes immunization in order to reduce disease, secondary includes screenings preventing the progression of disease, and tertiary includes rehabilitation after complications from an irreversible condition. I think this relates to the first image they showed us of the water dripping from the ceiling, and it is a very important concept. In order to stop the leak for good, you have to find the source and address that. Similarly, in order to promote good health, we have to address what causes the ill health in the first place instead of trying to treat the disease or rehabilitate patients when the effects are already irreversible. I think this has to do with bringing care out into communities. If patients in underserved populations do not have enough money for transportation or cannot afford to take time off from work to go to the doctor, they are not going to go to the doctor until their condition is severe. If these patients had an option in their community to be screened and learn the importance of early detection, they would be much better off in the long run.
Following this session, we went to a conference at the Botanical Gardens. The session that stood out most to me was about health mobilities. I had never heard this term before, and it was really interesting to learn about. Health mobilities is about how the movement of things and people can lead to health. One phrase that the speaker used that resonated with me was “experiencing health in illness.” He explained how cure or recovery is not always the end goal, and often times it is not even possible. It is important to learn how to self manage with your illness. He explained how important it is to come to terms with bodies that will never be cured. He also said, “health looks different on everyone.” I really liked this line. Relating this to my life and many teenagers today, I thought about social media. Social media has us constantly comparing ourselves to other people. With concepts like body image or productivity, it is easy to think that someone else is doing so much more than you or is so much healthier than you. When in reality, what they are doing may only work for them. You need to find what healthy looks like for you instead of trying to copy other people.
After this we went to an international nurses day celebration with adult nurses from Birmingham. They had a lot of activities and lots of English candy which I ate far too much of. I had the chance to talk to an ICU nurse, and she was telling us about her experience working in the ICU during COVID. She explained how the nursing workforce in the hospital she worked at has halved since before COVID. Half the nurses have left because the amount of work they’re putting in and the risk they are putting themselves and their families at is just not worth it. She said it’s really sad because with a lack of nurses they have no choice but to cut down on the number of beds available, and they just don’t have the staff to treat the number of patients that need to be seen in the hospital. She also explained how overwhelming it was to work in the ICU during COVID. She explained how she had too many responsibilities to handle. At one point the hospital ran out of ventilators, and she was told to put the patient on an anesthetic machine instead. However, she had no idea how to work an anesthetic machine and had to figure it out after receiving a one minute explanation from someone. This seems crazy to me, and if I were her in that situation, I would have been terrified that I would do something to mess up and put the patient’s life at risk. She also explained how she had too many patients, there was too much going on with each one, and the communication was terrible that she often times couldn’t keep track of each of her patients and what was going on with each of them.
Lastly, we went to to the skills lab at BCU. It was so cool to see. We did an interactive video where we had to think about what we would say to a patient and his concerned family after an accident resulting in an amputated leg. I had never done something like this before. I found it really hard to find the right thing to say when the family members were asking questions like: will he be okay? What will I do? Can I see him? What will I say to our daughter? It is hard to find the right balance between being honest and saying the right thing so the family member doesn’t panic. Also, you need to make sure that the family member is not putting themselves or others at risk while acting in their panic. For example, we should have tried to calm down the patient’s wife before she rushed out to pick up her daughter because it might be dangerous for her to operate a vehicle at that moment. It was really hard to think on the spot when talking to the patient’s mom, but I think we did a pretty good job!