On Being a Community Health Nurse

Pottery Set

I had the fortunate opportunity to be a community health nurse during the past 8 weeks in Barangay Libato, San Juan, Batangas. It has been a journey of highs and lows, but overall, it was a journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

When I first took up nursing, I thought that a nurse is confined to the job description: being a nurse. No, a nurse does not simply play a client’s advocate. A nurse is also a teacher, a researcher, a supervisor, a community organizer, a leader. All these roles I had the chance to play during my stay in Batangas.

Everyday as a community nurse was not the boring job description I thought it would be. Everyday was different from the last: in the morning you were caring for clients with different needs or immunizing children, and in the afternoon you were a researcher analyzing data or an organizer planning a big community activity. Different situations are thrown to you, and it tests your limits and shapes who you are for the better.

The part that I love about being a community health nurse is the independence given to me by my clinical instructor. I wrote in a past entry how we are no longer students to her, but colleagues who do what should be done out of personal responsibility. I guess that our clinical instructors are giving us the highest challenge posed to future professionals: the capacity towards being self-directed individuals who do what they do not because they are told, but because they genuinely desire to do it.

Besides all the work there, being a community health nurse is also being a human being who does human being stuff. I can say that we have integrated into the community that we have come to love. I think we had about 10 parties during our stay here. The food was great! I especially love pinaltok, a glutinous rice dish served with coconut milk and ube and ginataang monggo, also a glutinous rice dish served with fried mung beans. We went to baptisms, birthdays, and even a death anniversary gathering. We exchanged Christmas gifts with them, we played basketball in their court, we walked with them under the midday sun, and we shared the same dreams with them.

There is a particular client that I will never forget. The Conservado family was my first family in Batangas that I cared for. At one point, the head of the family had flaring episodes of gouty arthritis, and had no medications for it. I remembered how the pansit-pansitan plant (Peperomia pellucida) can be used for such cases, and recommended it to the family. However, the family did not know what the plant looked like, so I volunteered to look for one in the vicinity. I spent an hour looking for the plant, and in my stubborness not to stop, ended up being almost a mile away from the family’s home, searching under the trees in the middle of the rice fields (the plant usually grows in dark, damp places). The distance I reached was enough to cover the family’s home with my thumb. I actually felt disappointed as I did not find that plant.

I trudged back to tell the sad news to the family. Ironically, there was a neighbor who had the plant growing in a pot, who, ironically as well, thought that it was a weed. Heh, next time, I should ask first before going head on in the mud. I had fun looking for that plant, though I came back muddy and with Amorseco spikes embedded into my pants. When I returned to the family, they were very happy, and saw what I did as, to quote: “Hindi iyan gagawin ng kahit sinong doktor o nars na dadaan dito, pero ginawa mo.” (“No one would do this for us, be it a doctor or a nurse, but you did it for us.”)

When it came for us to part, the family members cried, and wished that I remember them fondly. They gave me a beautiful miniature pottery set, whom Mrs. Conservado told me to give to my mother and to “my future wife”, and bunches of bananas for the road home. To the Conservado family, if you happen to read this, know that I will never forget your kindness to me.

The best lesson taught to me by my experiences in Batangas is succinctly expressed in a quote by Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I think that this applies in all professions, whether it be health-related or not, that in the end, it all boils down to one’s passion. What sustained me throughout the challenges I faced in my stay was due to the passion that I held all this time: to make my clients happy by helping them achieve optimal health. All those long walks, those times burning the midnight oil, those papers: all worth it. All of it. All just to see my clients become healthy and happy once again.

I left my heart in Barangay Libato, San Juan, Batangas. The memories, the experiences, I will never ever forget.

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  1. kbugal

     /  January 22, 2012

    Jian! Nakita ko yung pictures ng food niyo, pwede na kayong magtayo ng karinderya! Haha! ^_^

  2. Uy, kilala ko yang pottery set. Haha~ Also, I want my pestoooooooooooo! 🙂


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