by Tricia Piorkowski*
As the children at Flying Kites get older, many are beginning to realize their dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Francis has openly shared his desire to be a neurosurgeon, while Monicah, Martha, & Virginia all express interest in becoming nurses. Having just graduated from nursing school, I understand the importance of getting hands on experience when working in the medical field.
Last week, I was able to accompany these four kids to the nearby Kijabe Hospital and set them up with the opportunities to shadow nurses. Monicah, Virginia, & Martha were placed with nursing students working in the pediatric wing, and were taught what it means to be a nurse, learning a few basic skills such as the taking of vital signs.
Having expressed deep and sustained interest in neurosurgery, Francis was placed in the neuroscience unit of the pediatric ward. There he met with nurses who cared for post-operative patients recovering from surgeries to correct spina bifida and hydrocephalus (surgeries he could very well be doing someday). We had the opportunity to walk around the ward, meeting families and children, and learning what their experiences have been like over the past few years of countless hospital visits and surgeries. While it is not the exact area Francis plans to work in, he knew it was important that to see what it’s like for the patients’ families, and to witness firsthand how good quality medical care vastly improved or saved these children’s lives.
The kids were given a tour of the hospital and got to see the maternity ward filled with mothers having just given birth and newborn babies. One of the nurses even tried to bring Francis to observe the Operating Room; and while they wouldn’t let visitors in for infection control reasons, he was able to sneak a peak of what the environment looked like. Each of the kids got to see an intravenous line inserted into a baby, which is something that most people don’t get to see until they are well into nursing/medical school.
After the long and fulfilling day, the kids were so excited and expressed endless amounts of gratitude for being given the opportunity to see what it’s like to work in a hospital setting. And while they expressed how challenging it was, it seems to have only fueled their desires to pursue a career in the medical field.
*Tricia Piorkowski, a recent graduate of Salve Regina, is currently the Health Ambassador at Flying Kites. Tricia, a supremely dedicated and loving ‘auntie’, volunteered at Flying Kites in the summer of 2010 and 2011 before returning this summer for a longer stay. Follow her personal blog here: http://triciatravelstokenya.wordpress.com/