Sunday, November 10, 2013

Smiles for Tecate

I was lucky enough to be selected out of my cohort to travel to Tecate, Mexico to volunteer with an organization Smiles for Tecate (see link here: They provide surgeries to cleft palate patients at no cost to the families since they cannot themselves afford it. There were four of us (UCLA students) going - myself, Alex and Juan (second year MECNs) and Christine (APN student. We left at 2:30 pm from UCLA campus and due to lovely So Cal traffic we didn't cross the border until 9:30 pm (we did make a stop and picked up food at Phil's BBQ). 
We shared a room in a hotel in Tecate and had to leave early next morning to go to the clinic.
On our way to the clinic
We did stop at a bakery to get some pastries to get ready for the day.
UCLA crew: Juan, me, Kelly, Christine and Alex

Nurse Alice with one of the patients in pre-op.

We were able to get a lot of OR experience. It is amazing to see how little they have there and appreciate so much more of what we have in the US. The patients were so grateful and the experienced staff was very willing to offer up their knowledge and expertise. I have definitely learned a lot. Out of 7 surgeries that we performed that day I was able to observe most of them, help OR nurses with providing supplies for the surgery, monitor post-op children and chart their vitals. It was an amazing experience and I definitely want to do it again.

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