An Incredible Learning Experience [Volunteer Post]
This is a guest post written by Rebeca Carter, a medical student from the United Kingdom. She spent a month seeing patients and learning from our doctors. We are thrilled to have students coming from farther and farther away to share their experiences and enrich this clinic. We thank Rebeca for her daily enthusiasm and good humor…humour!
In a typical November in the UK you can be certain of 3 things: cold, long nights and Christmas hype. At this time of year, it is easy to wish away our comfortable lifestyles in the hopes of being somewhere warm and sunny, away from the tirade of Christmas propaganda. I was one of these people and when presented with the opportunity of spending those cold winter weeks on the sunny island of Roatan I jumped at the chance.
From my first day at the clinic, I quickly realised that this was not the Caribbean iand experience it seemed on Google Images. As a mix of students and professionals from all over the world met at 7.30am sharp, it was difficult to ignore the number of people waiting just beyond the door in the hope of medical care. The patients varied in age, culture and morbidity but were unanimous in their optimism and gratitude toward the services received in the clinic. From coughs and colds to life threatening illnesses, I not only felt useful but it has also been an incredible learning experience.
However, the experience has not been without its frustrations. The limited amount of resources and specialists at the clinic make common conditions, which are so easily treated in the UK, difficult to assess and manage properly here in Honduras. From cervical changes to thyroid irregularities to epilepsy, it is infuriating to know the examinations and treatments we would provide at the drop of the hat in the UK which are simply impossible here on the island. Watching patients leave the consultation room knowing there is so much more that could be done with the proper resources has been the biggest learning curve of all.
We often forget how lucky we are to simply have been born or live in the UK with a system which provides exceptional healthcare, education and welfare to everyone who needs it. It is only after working in the clinic that I could truly appreciate how lucky I have been in this regard.
From my time at Clinica Esperanza I feel I can safely say that it is everything it sets out to be and more. The unique blend of compassion, enthusiasm and community are what have made one woman’s vision into a reality which it was pleasure to be a part of. – Rebeca Carter, medical student, England, UK