University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2019

Nursing, Merida Mexico

My university gave us a number of options to complete our summer requirement. We could work as a nursing assistant, do an internship domestically, or do one abroad. I was super interested in going abroad, and I had heard about Work the World through my nursing school. There had been previous students who’d completed an internship through Work the World and had a great experience, so I began looking into it myself!

Whitesides, MadisonI really had no idea where I wanted to go, but being from North Carolina, my parents liked the idea of me going to Mexico because it was not as far from home as many other locations were. I have also taken Spanish classes, so I thought Mexico could be a good fit for me.

When I first got to the hospital, I was nervous, as I did not know what to expect. I was welcomed with open arms by the staff on the pediatric floor where I spent four weeks. Even though I know Spanish, I found the doctors and nurses spoke very quickly. When they could tell they were speaking too fast for me, they would happily slow down or pull out Google translate to help. I was also paired with a nurse who was fluent in English.

Whitesides, MadisonI was surprised by the lack of control around drugs on the floor. Anyone could have walked into the room where the medications were stored. In America, all drugs are locked up and nurses have to use their thumbprint to access them. I was shocked that all the documenting was done by hand on paper. There were no computers at all, which is just so different compared to the hospitals in America. There was also not a lot of confidentiality as compared to how it is in America. There could be up to three patients in a room (and most times they were all full), so when a doctor or nurse would be talking to the patient and their family, everybody else in the room could hear what they were saying. Another big difference was the standard of hygiene due to the different regulations and resources available. 

Whitesides, Madison

One patient was in the hospital about as long as my internship lasted; he got discharged 3 days before I left. This boy and family were part of the Mayan culture that is often seen in the Yucatan region. When he first got an infection, his parents took him to their village healers. This did not help the infection, and by the time his parents took him to the hospital, the infection was much worse and it eventually turned into sepsis. His parents were upset and confused as to why it was taking their son such a long time to heal. Multiple times they asked my nurse if they could discharge their son. Every time my nurse convinced them it was better for their son if they stayed. This was a unique experience because I was able to see how culture and healthcare play a part with each other.

The house we stayed in was in a super nice area. We were able to walk easily to a shopping center, a Walmart, a movie theatre, and a gym. The staff in the Work the World house are all terrific and are willing to help with whatever you may need. They make sure you are having a good experience and are transitioning well.

Whitesides, Madison

The Sunday I got there, five other students also arrived, which was great because we travelled all around the Yucatan region together on the weekends. We actually still keep in touch! Together we went to Chichen Itza (one of the seven modern wonders of the world), saw a pink lake, swam in many cenotes, visited Isla Mujeres, swam with whale sharks, and also visited Tulum! It was honestly a jammed pack month full of so many adventures, new experiences, and growth. Merida was great and I cannot recommend this location more! It might be out of your comfort zone to go to a brand new place (it was out of mine), but it is totally worth it!!

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