I spent 4 weeks of my summer between MS1 and MS2 in northern India, specifically in the state of Uttarakhand. I was in the "Urban/Rural Himalayan Rotation" through Children Family Health International (CFHI). Along with two other students, I spent the first two weeks in the city of Dehradun shadowing doctors of various specialties. Dehradun is a beautiful city with tons to see and do. During my time there, I shadowed pediatricians, cardiologists and an emergency room physician. Most of the doctors ran their own clinics in private practices, so I got to see how these physicians and their teams operated an entire health care facility on a day-to-day basis. The doctors were always willing to answer my questions and share what they were doing with the patients.
After Dehradun, we spent a week at Landour Community Hospital in Mussoorie. Nicknamed "the Queen of the Hills" by the locals, Mussoorie is a popular tourist location due to its cooler climate and gorgeous scenery. The hospital was an interesting rotation because we basically got to go and see whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. One of the physicians was an orthopedist, so I got to see a lot of casts being placed and even got to see a few traumatic injuries being treated.
The final week we spent in a rural village called Patti. Adjacent to the town's convenience store, CFHI runs a completely free clinic for the village. In addition, twice a week, the doctor and his staff pick up the clinic and move it to one of six other nearby villages to run health camps. By doing this, CFHI can expand patient access for people who may live too far away from Patti. This was my favorite part of the whole experience. The surrounding countryside and warmth of the people brought me some much needed tranquility after three weeks of crowded streets and honking bikers.
I decided to pursue a study abroad experience because I wanted to expose myself to medicine and outside cultures in a way I had never done before. I succeeded, and I will always remember and treasure my time with CFHI. One recommendation I would make to anyone who is interested in this program: be sure to learn some basic Hindi before leaving for your trip. Most patients speak primarily Hindi (or their local dialect), and although there is a fair amount of English medical terminology thrown into the mix, it would behoove you to know a little bit of the language before you depart.