For avid readers out there, you would have learnt about my dream to set up my own clinic in the future and conduct free health check-ups for the less fortunate family. Those who have not, now you do.
And when I learnt about the Neighbourhood Health Screening (NHS) that does the same, I was extremely excited and signed up as a volunteer almost immediately. That was a decision I did not regret.
Today was the first day of the event that was held in Taman Jurong – where the majority of the residents are relocated there. My group of friends and I met up slightly early for breakfast in order to reach there early. Ironically, we got lost and ended up late. By the time we reached, the final brief started and we were dispersed into our groups of 5! I was lucky enough to be attached to Group 13 with 1 nursing, 2 social work and 1 medicine student (who was our group leader!).
Before we headed to the homes, we decided to take a selfie with the iPad they gave and I secretly changed their Lock and Home screen to the photo we took!
We were then given a list of residential units to conduct health screenings and one of them had already pre-booked an appointment with us. We decided to drop by and clear the pre-booked appointment first so the elderly do not need to wait very long for us, and she can continue with her activity.
This was another group photo we took!
As that was the very first experience (except for our group leader), we had to learn the ropes from ground zero. Thankfully, the auntie was super friendly and I got the chance to sort my stuff out while conducting the screening. Basically, the health screening includes measuring her blood pressure, blood glucose levels, BMI, waist-hip ratios and answer a laundry list of health care related questions.
There were many many questions, and having no prior exposure to these questions, I had to interject the conversations (about her life) a few times to get the answers I needed for the questionnaire. Of course, we let her talked about her life and she gave us tips about cooking! #Lifehacks #Justaddadropofvinegarintoeggtomakethemfluffy
Besides learning about her life, we discovered that she had a strong passion for recycling and is evident from her collection of recyclables and the products made from them. That was really an eye opening experience!
After spending about 2 hours trying to elicit out relevant information and talking to her, we started knocking on doors to look for more people who are interested. Apparently, the majority of the residents were not at home. We kept trying until we found one resident who was willing, but wanted to have the check at a later time. We decided to continue our search and headed down for lunch, while also waiting for the time to pass before we visit her again.
Lunch was not too bad, but we spoke about our experiences and why we wanted to do whichever courses we were in. When I started, I talked about my reasons why I wanted to do Medicine but ended up in Nursing. As the story slowly unfolds, I realized I should have been more tactful with my words and help them understand why I wanted to do Medicine. Nonetheless, they did and I learned how to better craft these statements out the next time someone asked me.
The sharing from the medical student’s reasons was quite eye-opening as well and I believe we had some common reason about having someone in our household being affected by a disease, and then not being able to help them, so we decided to study medicine to help others with the same condition.
During the break, we also taught the 2 social work students on how to measure blood pressure and blood glucose levels! I think this was an amazing experience for them as well since they will never be exposed to these in their duration of studies.
Once we were done, we headed over to our 2nd household.
With a better conceptualization of how the interview and health screening should go, we headed into the house of our 2nd resident. She was quite friendly and approachable and I was able to quickly solicit the relevant information from her rather quickly, while she was sharing her life experiences with us. Since she was more comfortable with speaking Chinese, I decided to use this opportunity to engage her more often and improve my Chinese! I believed I did, but there were still more improvements that can be made.
Moving on, we headed to the 3rd resident, who was the grandmother of one of our team-mates. Thankfully, she was keen to the health screening and invited us in. However, shortly after we went in, I am not too sure what question we asked, but that triggered a bad memory. As she walked through the conversation, her voice crackled and tears begin to whelm her eyes. She cried, and one of us gave her a hug.
Thankfully, she got better and I did her vitals. Before I wanted to continue with my measurements, she stood up and retrieve a photo from the drawer. That cascaded a series of reactions and she brought 4 thick photo albums and started talking about her life from the past. We spent 2 hours with her eventually and managed to finish what we needed to. Instead of ending at 4 as stipulated, we ended ours at 5 and the committee members were chasing us to end it. We still took our time though.
Being one of the main communicators with the 3 residents, I have learnt a lot! And I really mean A LOT!
First thing first, the first step of learning is extremely important as it sets the foundation out! Without the conducive environment the 1st resident set, I would not perform better in the subsequent interviews. And I guess I should be more mindful and give others a chance to do the interviewing as well.
Next, in the healthcare setting, eliciting information is as important as having a conversation with your patients. Having a conversation to learn about their lives will help you build trust, allowing them to donate more information to you. At the same time, you must be able to rein the patients back and obtain the information you need. This is about balancing between making the patients comfortable and getting what you need to help them. Extremely important experience, and very useful.
Lastly, it is of utmost importance to be able to weave your questions in the conversation as it moves along. Otherwise, it will be hard to break the conversation and then insert your question in.
Like during the conversation I had with the 3rd resident…
3rd: You know, this family member died because of drinking. He got so drunk that he got into a car accident.
Me: What about you? Did you drink like what your brother did?
That was how I manage to squeeze information out from her while she was in the zone of her story-telling.
When we were done, we took another group photo with the souvenirs from NHS committee and one of the residents who gave us a packet of biscuit each.
Yay~ 3 residents in a day! So much accomplishments!
On our way back home, one of the social work students thought I was a medical student because I had the doctor’s vibe – especially when I was talking to the residents! Haha, a bit of boasting here, but I really do hope this vibe will capture the attention of the medical school admissions committee, and then offer me a placing in Medicine.
Nonetheless, I will continue to work hard towards this goal! Maybe one day, before you know it, I would be graduating from a Medical school!