2016, 4th Year Elective
"My abroad rotation at Pop Wuj in Guatemala was an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. The rotation combined clinical work with medical Spanish instruction. Every morning I would work at the Pop Wuj Clinic in Quetzaltenango or at one of the mobile clinics in the neighboring villages. I worked alongside Guatemalan medical doctors and nurses, as well as other medical students from around the world. In the clinics we would work at triage stations, in consultation, or in the pharmacy.
"The disease pathology ranged from diseases that are also common in the United States such as diabetes and hypertension, but there were many cases that I had never seen in America, such as malnutrition, stunting, parasitic infections, and post herpetic neuralgia. Since we had limited resources, the clinical experience taught me to rely on my history and physical skills instead of relying on diagnostic imaging and laboratory work. In the clinics, we saw patients of all age ranges and from different cultural backgrounds.
"There are many different indigenous groups living in Guatemala, so we saw patients who spoke different languages. We also had a cultural competency program the first week of the program that is given by an anthropologist, who is also one of the founders of Pop Wuj. The course was very interesting and taught us about the outlook and views that many Guatemalan people have about Western medicine. We also learned about cultural norms and herbs and plants that are commonly used for medicinal needs.
"After clinical work in the morning, we had one-on-one Spanish class with a Guatemalan instructor in the afternoons for four to five hours. During the course of the four weeks, I focused my instruction on expanding my medical Spanish and now I feel comfortable conducting history and physicals in Spanish. I also enjoyed my time at my homestay, and it gave me the opportunity to practice my conversational Spanish everyday. My rotation at Pop Wuj was a phenomenal experience and a fantastic way to end my fourth year of medical school!
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