Louise Lo, Class of 2021
From the 17 to 22 December 2017, a group of four LKCMedicine Year 2 students and two Pre-Professional Education Office (PPEO) staff went on their first trip to Bacolod and Bago City in the Philippines.
We had the opportunity to meet with the dean of the College of Nursing at the University of St La Salle and the community health nursing coordinator to get a better understanding of their curriculum, the Philippine's healthcare system and Purok Kalubay, the community that we were going to conduct health screenings for. The health screening was in line with St La Salle's Community Health Nursing programme, which sees students conducting long-term community service with a particular village. This trip was important to establish our ties with the university.
LKCMedicine students participate in a delivery simulation at the University of St La Salle
During the planning stage, we learned that only a small proportion of the village was involved in the University's Community Health Nursing Programme and no medical screening had been conducted. Hence, we decided to conduct a health screening in order to reach out to a large proportion of villagers as well as discover what the common medical problems are, so that we can implement more targeted initiatives on our future trips. This information also allowed the local health centre to expand their medical database.
We set up different stations for the health screening. We screened people's height and weight for malnutrition, and performed visual acuity tests using the Snellen chart. We took blood pressure and blood glucose measurements, as well as villagers' medical history. We even had a cardiovascular examination station for children. Educational colouring pictures and crossword puzzles about having a healthy diet were also prepared for the children.
The team conducts health screenings for the villagers, both young and old
Through our health screening, we identified people with eye problems, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and even a baby with heart murmurs. With all the information recorded, we passed the completed forms of patients who were identified with health problems to the coordinator from the College of Nursing, so that she could coordinate with the health centres for follow-up. One person who attended the screening was even found to have dangerously high blood glucose levels, and it is comforting to know that this patient went to the health centre the next day for follow-up.
We also had a full-day attachment at the City Health Centre to better understand the medical facilities and resources available. We were attached to the emergency and outpatient clinic, the paediatrics clinic and post-delivery room. In line with the hospital's multiple efforts to educate the community about family planning, we had the opportunity to witness a woman, who had previously been taking daily oral contraceptive pills, come for an oestrogen implant. This was an opportunity none of us had had before as we are all pre-clinical students. It was also valuable to witness how such efforts by the hospital have resulted in lifestyle changes in the local populations.
I am especially glad that our collaboration with the University of St La Salle was useful for long-term follow-up and continuity even after we left. This made me more confident and certain of the efficacy of our project and we have new plans for July when we will head out on our next trip there. We hope to implement health education about diet, eye care habits and dental hygiene.