05/12/2022: This may be a weird title, and some readers may be reminded of when my freshman year dorm ceiling leaked -hahaha. Although England is an extremely rainy country, this statement was actually used to begin our public health lecture this morning at BCU this morning. The exact phrasing was the interrogative: Water is dripping through the ceiling onto your new carpet, how do you respond? We tackled this issue from a problem then a symptoms method. Essentially when dealing with this issue, you would first want to put out a bucket to catch the water, to protect the carpet from further damage, then you would want to work on drying the floor.
We approach public health in much the same way. I loved learning about public health and research last semester in my Intro to Public Health Research course. For context, public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health, through the organized efforts of society. One would utilize Community Based Public Research (CBPR) to work with the community they are to best serve its members. CBPR is a practice in which all community stakeholders act as equal partners in all steps of the research process with the goals of educating, improving practice, or bringing about social change → this sort of approach is action-oriented. It is all about providing the best outcomes while engaging with the community in a meaningful way. The great part about public health is that it empowers community members whilst addressing social disparities.
Next, our class presented a case study on tobacco use. Every time I have visited another country, I have been baffled by the sheer number of people of all ages who smoke. Smoking in the UK is very popular, just as in the US it is common to see people vaping on the streets. Here, however, the prevalence is tenfold, and many more people still smoke cigarettes. Although there is a stigma surrounding cigarettes in the US, for most of the world these apparatuses are still the norm. We learned that 80% of tobacco users live in countries with minimal income. The commercial tobacco industry has some very good lobbyists who help to perpetuate sales.
Tabacco is obviously highly addictive, and it has countless negative health impacts. Because of this tobacco companies are required to put health warnings on cigarette packaging. It is interesting because in the US cigarette packages are pretty minimal and discrete, while in the UK they boast graphic images of decrepit lungs and carcinomas. The packaging doesn’t seem to really have any meaningful effect, because on every street corner here you see a person smoking. To combat this epidemic, there needs to be the implementation of comprehensive smoking education. This is where public health comes in. A program like this will not be effective if all that is taught is that “smoking is bad.” The program needs to purpose a healthy lifetime method so that children become invested in their personal health, and the health of their neighbors.
Later in the afternoon, our class walked back to Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens because we were so generously invited to a health conference there. It was really interesting because we got to listen to several doctorate students’ presentations and research on various health topics. I found the one about a resource called the Children’s Programme very fascinating. It seems that many health systems in the UK take on a multidisciplinary approach. This is true when caring for mother and baby. In the UK it is a top priority that mothers receive ample care, but in this presentation, we learned about the problems in delivering that care, and some practical steps to reduce their impacts. Another group attended a presentation about student nursing in the UK, specifically about clinical rotations in the public prison system. I am eager to hear more about this because we do not do this at Pitt.
Today is International Nursing Day, so later in the afternoon, we got to meet with some Adult Nursing students who attend BCU. Nursing school in the UK is a little different than in the US. First of all, nurses attend university for 3 years. They also choose their nursing specialty at the beginning of their academic career. Adult nurses have the most diverse field of work because oftentimes other fields such as pediatrics and psychology bleed into their field through general practice. When talking to the BCU students, I found it especially interesting how their schooling is structured. They have block terms when they just do clinical rotations as if they are working a full-time nursing job. Then they have other blocks when they just attend lectures and skill labs. Nursing classes over in the UK also tend to be quite large. A third-year student shared with me that his class has just about 400 graduating nurses, and every 2 out of 10 students are male. To put this in perspective, my nursing class is just shy of 180 students, only 12 of which are male.
We finished off the academic day by attending a session at the BCU nursing simulation labs. This was quite entertaining for me because I absolutely love laboratory settings. We got to participate in various skillsets like sanitation, communications, a short anatomy quiz, and basic life support. These activities were a fun recap of our first-year nursing curriculum. I learned the most today by doing a simulated conversation with one of my fellow classmates. Essentially, we were presented with a story about a patient who had suffered a severe injury, and we had to deliver this news to the patient’s family. While the actual conversation was challenging it helped me to step into the shoes of the patient, the care provider, and the family member. I felt more confident leaving that conversation for when I will actually have to deliver news like this in the future.
Tonight, we had some free time. A group of my friends and I went down to Digbeth and went shopping. We went to the Birmingham boutique called COW. We also of course had to venture over to Mango and Primark, which are quintessential clothing stores for young women in the UK. We also went to the Custard Factory, which is the arts district in Birmingham. I saw this really epic statue carved out of a tree, which I will highlight below. My friends and I finished off the night by enjoying great Vietnamese food in the Bull Ring *and some milkshakes* 🙂
Day 5 in England is complete.