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Natasha Bosek of Garfield, at far right in photo, spent three-and-a-half weeks in Malawi, Africa recently. She and six other nursing students from Jamestown College spent time working an a variety of medical facilities, including a hospital, a mobile medical clinic and helping with an organization that serves orphans. (Contributed photo)

A hands-on experience

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A hands-on experience
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Natasha Bosek of Garfield graduated from Jamestown College in North Dakota with a bachelor of science degree in nursing on May 11.

Besides the educational experience, she was also fortunate to get some hands-on medical experience in another setting before beginning her career.

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Bosek, the daughter of James and Julie Bosek, spent three-and-a-half weeks in Malawi, Africa this past February/March. She traveled there with six other nursing students and two nursing professors from Jamestown College.

While in Malawi, she was able to experience several different medical settings.

She worked at Nkhoma Hospital, a 220-bed hospital where two to three patients share a bed. No one is turned away from the hospital due to inability to pay. Bosek noted that the practicing physicians pay the bills for patients who cannot afford care. Patients can walk for days to seek treatment, and nurses make about $50 a year.

The North Dakota students and faculty members worked with nurses from New Zealand, New England and Germany; physicians from all over the world and with medical students from Ohio at this facility.

Bosek spent one Sunday assisting a nurse in the pediatric unit at the hospital. There was only one nurse on duty to care for 86 pediatric patients.

The majority of the pediatric patients were there due to malnourishment. It is estimated that 75 percent of the malnourished children will not survive, the student noted.

Bosek spent time administering IV medications, noting that it was difficult to get accustomed to a process that involved all medications being located on a small cart in random, unlabeled bottles.

Another difficult thing to adjust to was that CPR is not a common practice in Africa and is typically only done on children younger than age 2.

"It's OK to die [there]," Bosek explained. "Most of the people will only live until they are 37 years old."

Bosek also spent time in the surgical unit, where she observed a C-section, skin grafting and cerclage (suturing up a cervix to help bring a baby to term).

She noted that all wounds were cleaned with a mixture of 95 percent chlorine and 5 percent water, which is very painful.

In the men's ward Bosek inserted and removed catheters and in the women's ward she checked vitals and did assessments on mothers and new babies. In the medical ward she conducted lab draws and started IVs.

The students also volunteered with Ministry of Hope, an organization that works with orphan children.

The organization's crisis nursery only has the resources to care for and feed 15 orphan babies at a time. The orphans can come in the day they are born and stay until age 2. Their mothers typically die during childbirth or from disease or infection At age 2 the children are brought back to the village in hope that a family or village member will care for them. If no one can, the child is put up for adoption through the government or brought to an orphanage for older children.

The Ministry of Hope feeding center feeds more than 300 orphan children. They get one meal a day, usually the same meal every day, all year long.

Bosek noted that during the "wet season" the children get seven meals a week, and during the dry season they may only get five meals a week.

Ministry of Hope also operates a mobile medical service that tries to deliver service to locations weekly. However, during the wet season, it's hard to get to the villages and sometimes several weeks pass between visits.

Bosek noted that when she volunteered with the mobile clinic, it had been two months since it had last visited some communities.

More than 300 patients were seen during that trip, with physicians only being able to spend about three minutes with each patient.

Bosek and the other students stayed in the homes of local families while in Malawi. When not working, they spent time hiking in Nkhoma Mountain, went on a safari in Zambia, and handed out Valentine cards to children in the community, 1,300 of which were donated by students at Brandon Elementary School.

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