Some of the clinical skills and knowledge that I gained during this elective included interprofessionalism, how to improve medication adherence, how culture and socio-economic factors can influence someone’s health and the care they receive, patient counseling, and knowledge on HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections.
I learned that the people are the experience; they help shape your thoughts and feelings about everything in this world.
My personal learning objectives included gaining independence as a traveller, and expanding my understanding of the global world. It was a huge learning curve to learn the ropes as a global traveller. I quickly learned how to book air travel and reserve accommodations abroad. Reading, Internet searches, and talking to previous travellers in Africa were paramount to understanding practical information such as money, and health and safety issues. The guidance from the Global Health Office ensured that we were on track with immunizations and Visas, and that we were not completing this medical experience in isolation, a great example of collaboration. My personal global world was previously limited to the North American East Coast, readings, discussions, and adventures with relatives and friends. My world was small, but soon opened wide through participating in the Tanzania 2013 program. Not only did I travel extensively throughout Tanzania, I also traveled to Zanzibar, Johannesburg, and Cape Town. My adventures included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going on a safari, visiting the Apartheid Museum in Africa and going Great White Shark diving. However, I must say that the highlight of my journey, including the numerous experiences at PASADA, was the people that I met. The people of Africa made the most profound impression on me – as evenings and weekends in Dar es Salaam allowed for personal interactions, helping me gain a greater understanding of their life situations. I learned that the people are the experience; they help shape your thoughts and feelings about everything in this world.
The biggest challenge that I faced during my elective was communicating with the patients. I could only speak a limited amount of Swahili and had to depend a lot on non-verbal communication. Despite this challenge everyone at PASADA was very understanding and willing to help bridge any gaps. I appreciated working in the various clinics, such as PMTCT, TB, ARV, lab, and pediatric, with my limited language skills. It gave me the opportunity to counsel patients of all ages using non-verbal cues.
When I think about how this experience has impacted my educational/career path I have a sense of both comfort and determination; comfort in knowing that I have chosen to work in the health community, and determination to reach forward and become a physician.
Please click on Post 1 to read the previous post in this blog series.
For more information on this Summer Program please visit our Tanzania webpage.