January 2017 has seen great progress in the development and standardization of YSI’s public health curriculum, as well as the structure of the clinics our advocates run during each session. Every session is nine days long and each group consists of 5 to 35 advocates, student group leaders, the expedition director, and registered nurses.
The advocates arrive at the Port au Prince airport by 2:30 PM and are greeted by their expedition director, an experienced senior member of YSI who has previously traveled to Haiti with the organization. The expedition director will help the group navigate the airport and onto a bus that transports them to the compound.
Upon arrival, advocates receive an orientation that familiarizes them with the lifestyle at the compound. They are given their room assignments, and, of course, have the first of many traditional Haitian meals. Following introductions, the group is briefed on what the upcoming week will look like.
The next day is an education day for the advocates. The morning begins with a walking tour of Pont Morel, the community in which our compound resides. Next, fieldwork groups are formed and assigned a student group leader who has been to Haiti with YSI before. These groups then move through a rotation of short seminars that teach the advocates about the most common illnesses they can expect to encounter with patients in Pont Morel. In the afternoon, groups rotate through four seminars: learning to take vital signs, understanding how to effectively act as a medical scribe, engaging in the structure of the clinic and all of the accompanying roles, and basic conversational and medicinal Creole vocabulary.
Once the education day is complete, advocates are ready to get out into the field and begin practicing all they have learned. The curriculum for public health advocates works in two, three-day cycles. The first day is fieldwork, where groups visit one of the towns we serve (Pont Morel, Caffouvert, Nolivos, and Boulans) and identify potential patients for the clinic. This process consists of taking vital signs, assessing symptoms , and scheduling appointments. While all community members are encouraged to visit our clinic for a walk-in appointment, we do acknowledge the limited capacity of our facility and remind walk-in patients that they may have to wait for a long time to see the doctor. Unfortunately, some may not be seen at all.
The second day of the cycle is the clinic, the structure of which has been greatly modified and improved since the facility’s inception. Our system is constantly improving over time, and our most recent clinic welcomed just over 100 patients in a single day.
The third day of the cycle is organized by the expedition director. Depending on the ailments we see in the clinic, follow-up visits are sometimes necessary. In this case, we spend the morning reconnecting with our patients to ensure a healthy recovery. If follow-ups are done in the morning, the afternoon is spent off-site, such as a trip to to Bouca Resort, walking to the black sand beach (about a 45 minute walk from the compound), or going into the city of Léogâne for lunch and shopping at the outdoor markets.
The adoption of an education day, followed by two repetitions of the public health cycle, gives advocates a roadmap for the week. YSI has found the cycle to be very effective, as it emphasizes the work that we came to do, while giving the advocates the opportunity to experience Haiti and enjoy at least one relaxing, socially-oriented afternoon per session.
We’re looking forward to putting this curriculum into action during our upcoming summer sessions. So, if you’re interested joining us as a public health advocate, expect to participate in a process that is fast-paced, action-packed, and incredibly rewarding!
For more information, check out the “get involved” section of our website.