A few days after the events of my last post Michiel my Project Coordinator (boss) approaches me and asks if he can have “a word”.
I quail internally as I obediently follow him outside, racking my brains for whatever misdemeanor I might have recently committed that I am about to be pulled up on. None as it turns out – as we stroll around the hospital compound he asks me if I wanted to swap job roles – from my current OPD nurse position based at the MOH hospital to the Inpatient Department Nurse (IDP) role based at the MSF hospital. I blushingly recall my overreaction to the not-so-dehydrated baby from earlier in the week and can’t help but ask whether the move is for the project’s benefit or my own.
Both, he tells me, bluntly but not unkindly.
Tommy our current IDP nurse has offered to extend his mission with MSF in Nasir if he can have a change of role.
Plus the handing over a segment of a project from MSF to another actor is a huge deal and in the post conflict context of South Sudan, an immensely difficult one. There are no doubts as to my clinical abilities, but also for my first mission it makes more sense to keep me at the main MSF hospital so I can really absorb myself with not only the medical protocols but also the organisational ethics and team spirit that make up the beating humanitarian heart that drive our work here.
Any resistance I could have felt to this proposition is melting away – Tommy, a Sierra Leonese MSF veteran is beyond a doubt way better placed to steer through the challenges of the OPD handover than I am.
We walk on in silence for a few moments – I ask for 24 hours to think it though. But I know that the decision’s made internally really.
It’ll be tough leaving behind the network of relationships that I’m beginning to build with the OPD staff and start again so soon at the hospital. I think of Paul, who has just returned from taking some leave and beamingly informed me that he had just got married during the week; Rita in the stabilisation room whose English and clinical skills are coming on together in leaps and bounds under my inexpert tutelage; the adorable cleaner whose name I still can’t pronounce, but who always looks unashamedly delighted to see me every day and pours out a stream of largely incomprehensible Nuer greetings which I’m just learning to respond to falteringly in kind.
As challenging and frustrating as the OPD can be, it’ll be an unexpected wrench to let go of all of that. But Tommy is the perfect person to move it forward. I tell my PC the next day that I accept the transfer – we’ll do a formal handover in the next week or so. But I think I’ll still go visit occasionally.