Thursday, December 1, 2016

Looking Back at Guyana 2016

Within the dying plants of last season are hidden the seeds for the new one ahead.
I Just Deleted the Whole #@%!?+$ Post.  

I had waxed philosophical about many things of critical world importance. Maybe the CIA didn't want them out there because when I went to hit "Publish" my blog was blank!   It is a good thing none of my grandchildren were here to hear what made Anne ask, "Are you upset about something?"  

Redo...with less philosophy

Immediate Aftermath
I arrived back at the airport in Hamilton where Anne greeted me with a camera and kisses.

It always seems to take me longer to re-adjust when coming back.  I used to think it was because I had trouble reconciling the wealth that I encountered everywhere in the north.   However, I think it is more personal that that.   It reminds me of my retirement.   I go from the day I arrive in Guyana with classes - preparation, teaching, marking; people needing to see me for all sorts of issues, some  revision of mental health policy or requirements .....  And then, when I am back in Canada, I am a retired guy who gets out for breakfast once a week.  This is a slight exaggeration, and, to be truthful, I do like the lazy pace.   But it is quite a change.    And once I get over my self-importance fixations, I enjoy my wife Anne, our children and grandchildren.  It doesn't take me long to start wondering, "What day of the week is it?"

Lots of the same, some differences

I racked my brain to come up with some new insight, but none came.   This year's first year nursing students, like the others before them wanted me to say if they were the Best Ever Batch.    I told them I couldn't say because I forget lots.  (Actually, the only things I have forgotten over the years are many names.)   They decided that they could live with "The Batch with a Difference". 
It was a different year with many routines.  I did wonder about what these students could have accomplished if they had been given a good education throughout their schooling.    They were very good this year - inquisitive, creative, critical thinkers.   It did give me cause to wonder, as this was the first time they were actually asked to think.

My 2016 memories are filled with the same usual suspects ..... student nurses, faculty colleagues, staff from the CEO through all the departments at Mercy, my banker and phone lender Michael Ram,  Drs. Bhiro Harry, Jorge Balseiro and their families who welcome me into their homes.
Bhiro, Georgia, Idanis, Jorge, me at Bhiro's home
 I feel grateful for all the kindnesses that colleagues and friends show me while I am there.   And I have a parallel gratitude for all those from the North who support me with prayers and donations. Several of my students wrote of their evaluations that they couldn't believe that people they didn't know gave them their tablets; it was the first time that any class had give them anything.   You make them and me feel special.  It is a cliché to say that I couldn't do it without all of you... from the philosophical (if there are no students, there is no teacher) to the more crass gratitude for the donations as the PBL programme could not be run.  So thanks as usual.

I am truly grateful to my wife, Anne Treadwell.  The students this year wanted me to thank Anne for "letting" me come.  I objected strenuously ..... but it may be closer to the truth.   My family here:  I don't think my grandchildren notice that I am not there, but I am sure they will have something to tell their therapists about an absent grandfather.   

There were some kind of new gratefuls in 2016:

Problem-based learning:
    • this year was the smoothest run and most organized ever.   I would like to say that I am getting better, but the real credit must go to an "old" first year student - 2009,  Candy Mohan.   She has obtained a B.Sc. Nursing, and lots of nursing experience.   This year she was a full time Faculty member at the School of Nursing and was keen on helping me coordinate the PBL.    She also knew many of her University of Guyana colleagues and "enticed" them into leading some of the small groups when we needed help.
    • Roberta Binda, was a constant leader of small groups and added some welcome consistency.  She also took her rotation in scoring the daily exams.   The Senior Faculty member, Jackie David, assisted with small groups.   And Candy recruited not-a- boyfriend,Chan, who was in between jobs to run a small group for three weeks while Nurse Elsie was in the US exploring with St Joseph's University ways to increase cooperation.   
    • So there seems to be increased integration and cooperation in many areas.   One for which I also have to give credit to Candy was the idea that we could offer Continuing Education Credits to staff nurses who lead the PBL small groups.  We proposed that they take the same student exam and we grade them on a pass-fail basis.   Our staff tutors really liked the idea and all who took the exam passed.  A Win-Win.
    • We have begun conversations about introducing some clinical skills training and readjusting the content in the Anatomy and Physiology course to parallel issues raised in the PBL pages.   Might happen  next year or the year after or "Just Now".

Psychiatry Master's Degree
    • Finally, all the "t's" are dotted and the "i's" crossed.   There is a Master in Medicine -Psychiatry offered by University Guyana and the Georgetown Public Hospital.  This is the result of the years of hard work by Bhiro and Jorge who were excited to begin official residency before I left.  They weren't the most excited; the four residents who had been working a doctors in psychiatry for several years were finally to get rewarded for their patience.
      The four "new" psychiatric residents and John
    • I had the honor of conducting the second academic day in the new degree programme and talked about the ethics of truth telling in psychiatry.   I only now realized some of the irony of that topic as the residents had been told for several years that it was about to start!   But who really knows the truth?
    • I hope that my Canadian Colleagues with the newly named "Mental Health Without Borders" can continue to offer their support for visiting faculty over the next three years so they can see them graduate!  It is one thing to start something and another to continue it.

Big Accomplishment for CEO, Helen Browman

In October, Helen Browman, Acting CEO at St Joseph Mercy Hospital was awarded a Master in Business Administration, Executive with honors from the University of the West Indies.   This a huge accomplishment as all during her studies she was working full time at the hospital.  Well done, Helen.
Helen was so excited about her degree,
she bought me dinner.

Something [or someone] was missing
I did have to go drinking without my colleague, Rev. Two, Dennis LeBlanc.   This year he had to attend to more important items; his [and Maggie's] daughter Emily's wedding.
Rev 2 reading large print service

So Does Change Happen?

Of course, you can't see changes if you look all the time...  If you look every minute, it seems nothing has changed, but if you wait a week one can see changes.  Well, in Guyana it may take more than a week but improvements happen.  When I first came to Mercy the Eve Leary Parade Ground's grass was cute by men with cutlasses!.   Here is a picture from 2016:

Maybe, I'll be back next year .....
Thanks for reading.  John