Saturday, April 18, 2015

Doctors in Training

One of my favorite experiences in OTS Program was working for the Vida organization in Nicaragua. Two weeks ago, we all arrived in Nicaragua to volunteer with Vida, a non-profit organization that provides free basic medical service to impoverished, rural communities. Looking back on it, I realize I had no idea what I was getting into. In the past I have volunteered at hospitals before; however, I have never been able to have as hands-on of an experience as I had working for Vida. As volunteers we did not only observe, but rather took medical histories, interviewed patients, took vital signs, and provided basic health education to patients. I also, did not realize the large impact that can be made with so few resources. With only two doctors, five interpreters, and us, the volunteers, we were able to see over 150 patients during the four clinic days.

The first day of work I was anxious, wondering if I would be able to take the blood pressure correctly and ask the right questions. I was also wondering how a group of young, American students would be perceived. But then the patients began coming in, opening up about their health concerns and histories, and I realized my nerves had disappeared as I spoke openly and frankly with the people about their health. I was able to learn about how Nicaraguan life and culture may impact health and common diseases and ailments in Nicaragua.

Overall the community was extremely accepting and grateful for the work Vida was doing. As I continued working throughout the week, I discovered my passion for directly interacting with patients and working on the frontlines within a community, and the experience confirmed my desire to pursue medicine as a career. By the end of the week, I understood we were affecting not only the individual patients, but influencing an entire community through the spread of knowledge and hope.

Symone Stephens

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