Tuesday, March 29, 2011


One of the roles we get to play in rural (developing country)healthcare is that of patient educator.  Unfortuneately you don't get to focus on that aspect of medicine as much when you are in training.  In fact, in the world of managed care, patient education is relegated to other specialists so as not to take up too much consult time.  Of course the curative care is always interesting and exciting and gives you immediate satisfaction, but there are great moments to be enjoyed in the work of patient and community education as well.
Both Sheri and I spend a good amount of time investigating issues, studying statistics from our communities (thanks to Kemmel's actuarial gifting!) and developing teaching materials for one-on-one education, staff training and community classes. 
This last week, Sheri kicked off a three-part series of community talks on diabetes.  We have used some one-on-one techniques with our patients for the last couple of years, but felt like we needed to offer group classes to reach family members and encourage more interactive learning.  Well, after many hours of study and preparation, Sheri gave the first class in Chuchipaca on Saturday during clinic.  We invited all the diabetics to class first and opened it up to anyone else interested.  Well, all 25-30 people waiting for consult decided they were interested (or at least bored just sitting and waiting), and crammed into the tiny room to hear Sheri and Gaspar give their class while waiting for their name to be called for consult. It was a hit, and many people asked questions at the end and said they were glad to get such good information.   The next class is already on the calendar for April 30, and I bet it will be standing room only.
Today, I worked on materials for our infant and child nutrition program, while Sheri went out to clinic in Chutzerob.  When she got home she told me about one our diabetics out there who always comes in with her sugars out of control despite the medicines, diet counseling and encouragement.  Well, today she had a blood sugar of 140--almost normal!  The lady said she was finally getting to understand her diet and how to better control her sugars!  Talk about satisfaction--it's a treat when God lets us see the fruit of our labors.

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