How to Become a Medically Trained Professional in 5 Hours



The title of this post is, of course, a joke. An extreme exaggeration. An impossibility. Because–in case you had any doubt–no one becomes a medically trained professional in slightly more time than it takes to bake a Thanksgiving turkey.

Some things you might actually become competent in in that amount of time. Hop scotch, perhaps. Or throwing a Frisbee.

Definitely not the vast oceans of knowledge that are the medical field of study.

But as we contemplate moving overseas and being without virtually any reliable medical care, we do want to be as informed as possible. Some dear doctor and nurse friends of ours volunteered their time (and one their medical office), to give us what they could. It was a day full of pig’s feet, long minutes discussing feces coloration, old wives’ tales being dispelled, and big, big words (think ‘acute cholecystitis’–which, when translated, means inflammation of the gall bladder).

I’ll spare you the details (Seriously. You have been spared.), but here are some of the most helpful things we learned in the lecture and practicum.



  • Learning our ABCs – For those unfamiliar with the wonderful world of medicine, this acronym stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Basically, the air needs to keep going in and out and the blood needs to keep going round and round. Along with this very basic information came an incredibly useful lecture on the more major infections and maladies, along with tools we can use to diagnose and treat them. Really, the more we learned, the more I realized I need to learn.



  • A Crash Course in Medicine – Drugs, drugs, drugs. We were given a broad overview of the most common antibiotics, anti-malarias, pain meds, and skin creams along with guidelines for how they interact with each other and in what circumstance to administer each.




  • Listening to Lungs and Examining Ears – Apparently, listening to lungs and examining ears when people are healthy is just as important to listening to them when they’re not. That’s how you know something is wrong! *light bulb flicks on*


  • Sutures – By far, the most eye-opening part of the practicum. I’ll break this down into the steps as I experienced them.


 STEP 1: So that’s what a pig’s foot looks like detached from its body. Huh.


STEP 2: Just have to close the wound (the small, one-inch opening on the top of the specimen). No problem. Do I use the big scissors or the small ones? And what are the tweezers for?


STEP 3: The merciful part. Learning how to inject lidocaine (in our case, water) into the area around the wound. This was my first experience injecting something into anything’s skin. Thankful for the opportunity to practice on something that was not screaming in pain.


 STEP 4: This is about the time when I started wishing I was a seamstress of some kind. Any kind. At all. Approximate the wound. Penetrate the skin at a 90 degree angle. Tie a knot. Repeat. Wait, how do I tie the knot again?


STEP 5: Pull tight. But not too tight. There you go. One amateur suture.  I’d say this took me close to five minutes. For one suture. If doctors took that long for each stitch, I’m pretty sure most of us would be dead. Here’s a closer look at the finished product.


Those were among the most helpful things we learned. We only scratched the surface of the surface, but we are so very thankful for even that much and the people who provided it. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use much of what we learned, but at the very least, we know more today than we did yesterday. Maybe we will be able to better diagnose something or better treat something. Maybe we will just know better how to describe something to someone over the phone or through email.

We have always said that there are inherent risks with moving to a third world country and we want to be as wise and prepared as possible. We’ll be thankful when the time comes to leave, but–until then–we are thankful for every day we have here to prepare.

A note: Obviously, if there is an actual medically trained professional anywhere in the vicinity of where we are, we will go to them first before attempting to do much, if any, of this on our own. This training serves only to provide us resources in the event that there is not.

1 Comment

  1. Wow, that is good stuff! Keep running hard as you grow in practical skills for the sake of the gospel!


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