We finished the placement and our time at Samuha in Southern India at the beginning of February and after having some time to reflect on our 5 weeks there I’d like share a little bit about our experience.
The goal of our time at Samuha was to educate local Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers to enhance their skills, while at the same time providing a once in a lifetime learning opportunity for the 4 UBC students. Based on the final meeting with all of the Samuha staff and individual meetings with students I am pleased to say that the project was a huge success!!
During the final meeting, staff were very thankful for the education that was provided to them. Especially the educational sessions where we covered paediatric assessment and treatment, wound care, stroke rehabilitation, surgeries available for children with cerebral palsy, and hip dysplagia. We tried to keep the sessions as interactive as possible and I will make sure to remember this in future teaching sessions that I do.
As far as suggestions for the future, the staff wanted us there longer and to focus solely on education! I love these suggestions and totally agree that a longer time commitment would be great in order to really focus on their needs and goals and have enough time to go through theory and practical sessions with CBR workers. Lucky for them they have an awesome Physiotherapist, Andrea Mendoza (www.physioandrea.com) going for 6 months next year!!
Now, let me talk about the 4 amazing students that I had the pleasure of teaching for 5 weeks! To be honest, I was a little nervous as a relatively new physiotherapist taking 4 students for my first time as a clinical instructor. But, I couldn’t have asked for 4 better students. The teamwork they displayed was incredible! Since there were 4 of them and 1 of me there were of course times when I wasn’t available to all of them. But, they were great at working together and often times solving problems as a group. At the end of the placement, I was happy to let them know that in my mind they were already physiotherapists. Canada is lucky to have such intelligent, caring, and motivated people soon to be part of their healthcare system.
One aspect of the placement that everyone seemed to really like was our nightly recaps. With these daily recaps we had a chance to talk about any clients that we saw throughout the day and talk over assessment, treatment progression, or any other questions that came up. I think the highlight of our nightly chats for me was the highs and lows. This is where the students and I would each go around saying our high and low for the day. As an example, one day my low was seeing the state of a public school where a child who had very low mobility and a severe pressure sore was placed in a classroom on the second floor where he sat on the floor in his own urine. The high for that day was seeing how all of his friends helped him get home. They would help him manage the very steep set of stairs, where they had a pink bike waiting at the bottom. The child would then get himself on the bike and his friends would wheel him home. Just an incredible sight! This is just one example of many to show how caring and helpful Indians truly are. Even at a young age, there was no judgement for this little boy. Only, friends more than happy to help.
Similarly, the people who are involved with Samuha are all in it for their love and desire to help people with a disability. The staff at Samuha work tirelessly to help people in their community and are changing the world as they do it. They work 6 (often 7) days a week and as many hours during the day that is needed to make sure that every child, person, and family member is seen to the best of their ability. Many of the staff even welcomed us into their homes and really made our time at Samuha the best experience possible! I am happy to have had the chance to meet such incredible people and look forward to planning a return trip where hopefully I will be able to contribute in a larger way. Phil