Growing up, Annie Lee, MSN/MPH ’09 thought that 55 degrees was cold. But this winter, when she arrived in Unalakleet, Alaska for a clinical rotation as part of her MSN-FNP/MPH program, the temperature was –30 and falling.
“It’s freezing cold,” wrote Lee in an e-mail to her family. “Alaska is where I discovered that people keep their cars plugged in at night to keep the engine warm, leave the car running when they run into the store, and wear snow cleats to prevent falls.” It is also the place where she reached patients by trudging through snow drifts in a fur parka, ogled the Northern Lights from a medevac flight, and mourned the death of a woman on a tiny island in the Bering Sea.
Friday, January 16, 2009
My day today was pretty random and funny. It ranks up there with the time I took Kapwera lessons and made a complete idiot out of myself. Things I did today:
1. Saw a patient (since that is why I am in Alaska). That’s right, a 9.5 hour day at the clinic and I saw one patient. I guess when the weather gets bad, no one goes outside…
2. Tried reindeer sausage (leaner than pork, but isn’t everything?)
3. Was told stories about “the time I shot a bear” or “the time I had to medevac” by the 60+ year old women who work at the clinic.
4. Practiced excising moles and suturing on thawed out chicken (because no one came in with a laceration or volunteered to lacerate him or herself for the sake of my learning).
5. Practiced reading various x-rays.
6. Ate muktuck (whale blubber). I had the blubber of a Bowhead whale. Very “chewy” and rubbery. I can’t say that I would eat it again. Definitely not lean.
7. Went to a “restaurant,” Peace on Earth. It looks like someone’s garage with folding chairs and tables with plastic tablecloths on top. Not only is it a pizza place, it also sells instruments, sunglasses, and wetsuits, and is also a beauty salon (now offering piercings and acrylic nails).
9. Responded to an on-call! Luckily, my preceptor and I stayed at the game because there was an injury—a girl came down and rolled her ankle with impressive swelling. After an initial assessment and splint at the school gym, my preceptor and I raced back to the clinic on his snowmobile to warm up the x-ray machine while the patient and health aides followed by the school van.
“I find myself forlorn,” Lee wrote at the end of her trip. “I am coming to know and love people and places and then I leave. This makes me wonder if it is us, the ones who ‘serve’ the community, that benefit more than those being ‘served.’”