Dr. King at your service

Posted by on May 27, 2013

Whoa, that title sounds weird.

It will become real so soon though! Ahhh! Anywho…first off, a little update: we finally made it to Mendoza!!! I can’t begin to describe the happiness I felt because it was actually happening. I made so many fun memories with Brenna, Phoebe and Martha (including a lost passport/all forms of identification scare) and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!

But what I haven’t been telling y’all is that for the past 4 weeks I’ve been shadowing at hospitals here! Yes, my clinical observation class that I’ve been talking about forever has FINALLY started! So far, mis compañeros y yo have traveled out to a Mapuche ruca (a center for the indigenous people of Chile), a palliative care center (for patients who have AIDS/cancer/terminal illnesses), Hospital Sótero del Río (a genereal hospital where we  observed the maternity ward), a primary care/outpatient center called Centro de Salud Comunitario, Santiago de Nueva Extremadura, and the emergency room in Clínica San Carlos de Apoquindo. Now, I know that was a whole mouthful of crazy names, so I’ll put it in English for y’all.

Things I’ve learned while shadowing:

  1. Terminal illness–don’t think I’ll be working in that area. Although the center was nice (well-lit for being so closed in, and very nice facilities for being solely run on donations) I don’t think I see a future there. It was just so somber and sad…don’t think I could handle it. It was neat to experience the center though: it is the only one of its kind in South America. There are 40 beds throughout the center, but only around 20-25 are actually occupied. The patients seem like they are very well taken care of. We didn’t get to talk to them ourselves, but everyone on staff was nice and welcoming.
  2. Sometimes the efficiency in this country is less than satisfactory. Thank goodness for America. Don’t get me wrong…things run smoothly (most of the time) here but there’s always room for improvement.
  3. Mental illness is no joke. While at the ruca, we learned that if a patient came to a general hospital and the doctors determined that they couldn’t heal the patient because the problem was more mental than physical, they would send them to the machi at the ruca in hopes of healing their bad spirits. Interesting, huh?
  4. What you see on the streets is real life. While at the primary care center, I had the opportunity to talk to the mom of a girl who they suspected had asthma. While the doctor was off running around the office checking on certain tests they had run, I had a little heart-to-heart with the mom. I asked her what her job was and she replied that she sold things on the side of the street. Things they don’t need, things they could possibly make…all is fair game. Whatever brings in money to the household. After talking to her, everything got real. All the people that peskily ask me to buy things on the street have a name, have a story, have a reason to be there. They just want to provide for their family! And although I live in the nice part of town, situations like this still exist in Santiago.
  5. Location really does matter. One week, I was at the primary care center in the poorest sector of Santiago and the next, I was in the richest! And boy did this make a difference. I shadowed in the emergency room of a clinic (what they call private hospitals here) in Las Condes and it was soooo nice. When I entered the hospital, I thought I was back in the states. Everything was modern and huge and clean and nice…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Because of this, the emergency room wasn’t what you’d think: blood, guts and tears everywhere. Nope. This emergency room was more like Urgent Care and was calm for most of the day. I quickly learned that I’m not sure I want to go into ER, just because of the inconsistency. I like being certain of what’s going to happen. And here is definitely not the place!
  6. Standing on your feet all day is exhausting. Got some newly formed respect for doctors now. Keeping track of 5 million different patients while walking around for  hours on hand? You go, doctors, you go.
Also, fun fact: I’ve seen two live births. No big deal.
Just as I learn things at each hospital I attend, I become more and more aware that I am growing. Estoy creciendo. When Maricarmen first said this phrase to us at the beginning of the semester, we all shook our heads in disbelief and thought that this woman is crazy. But actually, she is so right. Not only am I learning more of what I like and don’t like in the medical field, I’m also learning things about myself. I’ve come to realize what I put my identity in. So much of my identity is formed from my surroundings: my family, friends, where I live. And when you’re uprooted and move to a different location, you have no choice but to thrive in those situations. And that I believe I have.

More updates: a new student is coming a new student is coming! That’s right–our family will be receiving another student. There will soon be 2 gringas in this household! I’m so excited to get to know them and teach them everything I know about Chile. Although they are coming on Wednesday, I still don’t know who they are. Also, great news! I leave for San Pedro de Atacama (a desert in the north) on Thursday! Super excited. Promise to blog about that soon after I get back.

But until then, chao! Xoxo

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