By Sharon Vandewyngaerde

April 2016

After a tiring first day of hospital internship, I joined a medical mission for the circumcision of more than 400 boys fearfully waiting. The doctors/nurses first administered local anesthesia, disinfected everything, clipped a line in the skin, and brought back the ends to stop the bleeding. Many boys were shouting and crying so I feared that the anesthetic wasn’t very good. The tables and floor were smeared with blood.

They allowed me to try it and at first, I was a bit nervous because if I did something wrong I could cause a lifelong trauma on the child. But they said I was actually quite good and I liked it. I was able to circumcise 20 boys, and was very tired but very proud.

Thereafter, I spent three days in one department so that I could go through most departments.

At the emergency room, many have to sit on a chair or be treated in the waiting room for lack of beds. It is very busy, usually with 40 patients or more. Some have to wait long before they get treated, some were already discharged but had to wait long for paperwork.

Then the operating room – my first time ever so everything was new to me. I attended a lot of surgeries and learned a lot. I witnessed a birth for the first time. It felt very special. I gave first aid to the newborn. I was proud of myself. I helped during a cesarean birth. At first I was very nervous to assist because I didn’t know the names of the instruments. But I memorized them and was proud to be able to act quickly when asked for one. This is so far my favorite department in this hospital.

My final week was in the intensive care unit. Patients are mostly young with heart disease. Cleanliness as in all other departments was very distressing. Visiting rules are not strictly followed. The night nurses do the overall patient care. I feel so powerless here.

This hospital hardly has the means but the nurses surprised me everyday. They wanted to give the best care. If they had no resources they were creative to make do with what they have. I admire them a lot. They get very low wages but still work hard according to Philippine standards and I never heard complaints.

I had never felt so good in a hospital. Everyone knew me at least by name and every time I walked through the corridors everyone shouted “Hi Sharon.” I felt more than welcome and accepted. My supervisor gave me the most beautiful compliments. I also got the most beautiful farewell from the nurses and hosting team – a big cake and a small surprise party for me. It’s very hard to say goodbye to Ospital ng Muntinlupa. It’s is one hospital I will never forget.

Sharon Vandewyngaerde, a nurse student, is in the Philippines for her internship.