This week was spent in the OR unit! When we first toured the unit way back in June, the charge nurse, Ma’am Anna told us we would be allowed to scrub in and assist in surgeries so this week has been long-anticipated. On the first day, we got an orientation of the unit. We walked by one of the surgical suites and the surgeon actually allowed us to walk-in mid procedure. Dr. Nazareth, one of the best urologists in Batangas, showed us the muscle layer, fascia, and subcutaneous layer. He was also one of the surgeons who was a part of the first ever kidney transplant team at Cabrini. We saw a lot of gastroscopies and colonoscopies throughout the week. There is a lot of downtime between procedures, so we got a chance to get to know the nurses and surgeons and anesthesiologists. They were all so welcoming and willing to help us to get in the flow of the OR. During one of our chats with the anesthesiologists, he told us that his daughter is actually an OBGYN back at OSF St. Joseph and Carle Bromine in Bloomington! Such a small world! It also brought me a sense of home as someone we met knew exactly where we came from. He told us to seek her out when we have our clinical rotations next semester so that should be cool!

The most exciting day for me this week was on Friday! It was my turn to scrub in to assist a surgery and this one was going to be a TAHBSO procedure, total abdominal hysterectomy-bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy. I met the surgeon, Dr. Villadelgado, and the anesthesiologist. Got my gown on, gloves, and entered the sterile field. It was the surgeon, Joey who was the main assist, Karlene who was the person in charge of handing the instruments, me who held the retractor and instruments, and Charles the circulating nurse. It was so cool! The surgeon was keeping me in the loop after every move he made and showed me a lot of the anatomy. Saw the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, vaginal hole, intestines, bladder, appendix, and all the layers and probably showed me more that I don’t recall.The uterus and cervix were removed and the other tubes were tied off. There were multiple myelomas and some endometriomas with some brown liquid squirting out. This surgeon was very experienced and talented. He worked so carefully fast making sure no damage or bleeding was done. The whole procedure took about 2 hours. After the incision was sutured up, the patient was taken to PACU to recover until she got moved to Station 1, the med-surg floor.

This weekend was a much needed rest and recharge time to get ready for next week which will get spent in the hemodialysis unit and chemotherapy unit!

With half of the OR nurses and surgeon post AV fistula surgery

Our last picture of the week with the OR team


Another week, another hospital unit! This week was spent in the Intensive Care Unit. The patient census was definitely a lot lower than ICUs in Illinois so we got the chance to each focus on one patient but help in procedures with them all. We were able to do a lot of hands-on skills and observe many as well like NGT feedings, blood glucose tests, Foley catheter insertion, NGT insertion, and med passes. We had our first encounters with patient deaths this week too, a case of seizures after sepsis and multiple organ failure and another case of rheumatic heart disease. As emotional as these cases were, they taught me a lot about patient care and empathy and definitely made me a much stronger future nurse. Outside of the hospital this week, our preceptor Sir Jeff and his father-in-law, Kuya G, took us to hike the 1,500 steps at Mt. Makulot. It was definitely a hard challenge but the incredible views and fresh green mangoes made it all worth it. After the hike, we went to their family’s restaurant for a well-deserved lunch. For dessert, we went to their family farm property and made fresh buko juice. This was so delicious! This weekend, JAM (Jake + me + Mia) also got the opportunity to travel to Manila and explore! With our amazing tour guide once again, Ate Melissa, my best friend’s aunt who lives here, showed us some cool places! We had time to explore the SM Mega Mall and The Podium. Mall culture is definitely no joke here; they are all massive and one can spend an entire day in one. We also explored Bonifacio High Street and enjoyed the nightlife. On Sunday, we had the most delicious Korean BBQ at another mall and shopped and walked some more. A great ending to a great and eventful week! Next stop, the OR!

Half of the ICU staff we met this week! Incredible humans! The other half was off the day we took this picture
We stopped by Station 1 to say hi to our friends
Post climbing down the 1500 steps to take in the views and eat our green mangoes freshly picked off the trees
Climbing back up the 1500 steps, quite the challenge!!
Enjoying some fresh buko water at Kuya G’s farm – can you tell I loved it?
The Podium Mall, incredible!
Mia, Jake, and I walking around Bonifacio High street, perfect timing with the flag in the background
Enjoying the nightlife with Ate Melissa!
Korean BBQ for lunch on Sunday


Another week checked off in Cabrini and in the Philippines! This week was spent in the Emergency Room. I was very shocked at how different this ER was from the ER back in the states where I volunteered. There were many instances where we had to wait outside for patients to come in. As different as it was, I am very appreciative of the many hands-on nursing activities we were given the opportunity to perform and the procedures we were able to observe. These include seeing a very deep wound being cleaned up from metal shards, taking vitals on patients of all ages, setting up the ECG machine on patients, preparing several tetanus toxoid vaccines and other medications, observing a cervical inspection on a lady in labor, and speaking with the ER doctors. We met some amazing nurses in this department who taught us new skills! Two of the nurses were actually leaving Cabrini and working abroad in Singapore and the UK. During the weekend, we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Tagaytay City with my best friend’s family who lives here in Manila. They took us to Cabana’s restaurant where we had an amazing view of the Taal volcano. Then we went to the Puzzle Mansion and got to see the largest puzzle collection owned by one lady in the entire world. We then traveled to People’s Park in the Sky and took in all of the amazing views. To end our Saturday night, we beat the rain storm right on time and ate some meriendas at the Ruined Project. Looking forward to this following week as we rotate in the ICU!

Our ER coworkers on our last day
Got to visit our Station 1 family this week
Visited our first Filipino mall this week, SM Calamba
Went to a street food stand during one of our breaks. I tried lumpiang gulay, kwek kwek, and chicken isaw.
So grateful for Josh’s family who showed us around Tagaytay City! Look at that incredible view with Taal volcano in the background.
Delicious food at Cabana’s: pork sisig, BBQ ribs, bulalo, and of course rice
another picture of the amazing view
JAM outside of the Puzzle Mansion
Jake, Mia, me, and Ate Melissa at People’s Park in the Sky


Wow! The first week in the Philippines is now complete! After long days of travel and orientation, Jake, Mia, and I, or as we call ourselves, JAM, arrived at our apartment in Santo Tomas, Batangas. On Monday, we met our preceptor, Sir Jeff. He is the head trainer nurse who will be by our side throughout these two months at St. Francis Cabrini Medical Center. This week, we stayed at Station 1 which is the equivalent of a general floor. We met so many nurses and doctors who were all very welcoming to us. It is not an understatement at all when people say Filipinos are very hospitable people. Almost every day after work, our coworkers took us around Batangas to try new things and explore new places. At the hospital, Sir Jeff has been teaching us old and new skills and I already feel like I am a more confident student nurse in the skills I am able to perform. We’ve learned medications, found and listened to fetal heartbeats, given medications to patients, drained all sorts of bodily fluids, observed IV insertions, and learned how to use their IV infusion pumps. Off to next week where we will start our ER rotation!

Night out with our coworkers at Neighborhood
JAM at Monte Maria
Food from a coworker’s sister-in-law’s restaurant. My favorite food so far is chicken chami!
Station 1’s supply/medication room

Welcome to the Philippines as seen through my eyes

Follow along as I engage in a new world of nursing at St. Francis Cabrini Hospital and explore the beautiful Philippine islands

Weekly posts on Sundays

Special thanks to the Freeman Asia Foundation for making this dream a possibility