I spent about three weeks on Grand Bahama Island to do a community health clinical rotation. Three classmates and I arrived on the island with only a vague understanding of what the trip would entail. I certainly did not expect our work on the island to make such a big impact on my life as a person and as a future nurse clinician.
Our work began at the local YMCA by volunteering our time during a children’s summer camp. We were given the opportunity to plan and implement health promotion lessons. We focused our teaching on nutrition and dental health. We held classes and did activities with children ages five to thirteen.
The next portion of our trip took us to Sweetings Cay, which is a small island off the coast of Grand Bahama. This cay is home to only 169 people and is three miles long and one mile wide. The only way to get here is by boat and you must plan according to the tide in order to get there safely. There is one elementary school there and in order to go to high school, the students have to take a boat back to Grand Bahama at 5:00 am and then take a 60 mile bus ride to the nearest high school.
While on Sweetings Cay, we ended up hosting an all-day health care fair for the children. This involved teaching the children about nutrition, dental health and cardiovascular health.
This trip was truly uplifting and inspiring. I learned how adaptive and resilient people can be. I also was so impressed with the people there and how willing they were to learn. This trip showed me a whole new way to assess the health needs of a population and how to implement health promotion with limited resources. The things I experience and learned in the Bahamas are things that I will carry with me as a future nurse. I hope that we can keep this as a sustainable project and even reach out to other schools at UVa to join us in implementing more ideas.