“How is nursing different in United States than in Kenya?” has been the question of the week from nurses and nursing students. What I can see is we actually have more similarities than differences. In Kenya and the United States there is disease, pain, suffering, medical staff with compassion for those who are suffering, medical staff who have hearts with the attitude of service, the best care being provided that resources allow, broken systems, corrupt people, disparities among people, division among beliefs, brokenness, need for preventive medicine and public education of diseases, and a need for gentleness, forgiveness, and healing.
The greatest difference in Kenya is the lack of resources. Resources meaning materials, financial resources to have access to care, access to diagnostics, and the trained staff to provide care for the number of patients. Yet, the medical staff here persists. Many doctors clinical skills are far superior out of necessity due to lack of resources. Their patience is superior possibly due to learning to wait for results, access to diagnostics, and resources. They are more gentle, taking time to stop and greet one another with a hand shake, valuing all people from staff to patient. I have seen little pride, little competition amongst disciplines, no whining or complaining, no obvious pecking order.
I have seen gratitude from patients and families who have less access and poorer conditions. Families care for and love each other unconditionally, staying at the hospital and feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing the patient, changing bed linens, etc. I have seen gentleness with each other, shoring each other up, encouraging each other. Their faith and dependence upon God is greater, regardless of lack of resources and poor conditions. They remain gentle, hopeful, and persist through conditions the average American would protest. Their faith in God is unwavering. There is peace here and a unity in spirit.
1 Peter 4:8-11
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(Lisa is a faithful servant, (and a nurse), on our team who has been ministering to patients in the hospital and educating Kenyan nursing students/staff.)