Enjoying the journey

17 02 2012

Well we have reached the halfway point here in Rosario. Life around here seems more normal now with less daily surprises that occur while abroad. The weather has cooled down a little bit, at least enough so that the power does not routinely go out from over usage. The data collection has begun in earnest and it will continue to pick up steam as more field workers complete their training and begin recruitment on their own. We recently passed the 100 pt mark. While I was proud to hit that mark, I certainly hope the next 100 comes a little easier. Preliminary data looks promising and so I am excited to see all the data once we have it. The prevalence of the data is showing a similar percentage to that reported by the government five years ago despite a rather aggressive public health approach. Our hypothesis is one major contributing factor is a low level of medication adherence for reasons we hope to elucidate. Our goal is to get 300 subjects for the anemia prevalence aspect of the paper which does not appear to be an issue. We are hoping to get at least 100 patients for the adherence aspect of the study. This is slightly more challenging because we have to have subjects that are currently taking iron, but I am confident that we will be able to recruit enough before my time in Argentina comes to an end.

One of the biggest issues besides the research personnel is the physical space needed to conduct the interviews as space is a precious commodity in the crowded public health centers where our recruitment is happening. It usually involved a complex schedule knowing where and when different generalists, psychologists, and pediatricians are going to be.

In order to expand my experience beyond the health centers and the outpatient setting, I had the opportunity to participate in rounding in the local Children’s hospital. It was remarkably similar to rounding at Duke hospitals in terms of structure with residents prerounding and presenting the patient to the attending. I was happy to listen to the presentations and improve my medical vocabulary. The utter lack of use of computers used in the hospitals is in stark contrast to Duke hospitals. While there are obvious disadvantages to this system, there are some advantages as well as there seemed to less multitasking during rounds. One of the larger differences I found was the doctor patient relationship. The relationship seems to be more parental and frank. This, however, seems to lead to a more open and personal relationship. It is quite the interesting dynamic.

Having the experience to interview and get to know the people of Rosario has been a great experience, one that most tourists or foreigners rarely enjoy. Talking to parents about their children really reveals how similar we are, sharing the same hopes, desires, and worries. Being able to spend my days talking to these strong women is truly a privilege. It has been a great opportunity to learn and share. While the data analysis and manuscript preparation are the ultimate goals as they signal viable research, I am learning to enjoy the journey of the research and not just the destination.

Two small examples of enjoying the journey in Rosario outside the health centers:

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Doughnut-like treat filled with dulce de leche. Heavenly.
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Saturday Kayak Trip on the River

This weekend is Carnaval and everything is shutting down for a few days so Christine and I are taking advantage to go and explore Buenos Aires. I am very excited to experience the murgas, while Christine has her heart set on some serious shopping. It should be lots of fun.

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