From Colorado to Tanzania - A Pre-Med Students StoryOctober 5, 2012
In the summer of 2012 Bryant Elrick, a Pre-Med college senior from Colorado joined Gap Medics for a month of medical work experience at Iringa Regional Hospital, Tanzania; this is his story..
While on work placement in Tanzania with Gap Medics I lived with a large group of international students at the ‘Rock’ house in the town of Iringa. This had the fun and communal living environment of college which provided a fantastic social atmosphere where I made friends with pre-medical students from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and all over the world.
During my work experience placement I was based at Iringa Regional Hospital. A typical day in the hospital involved shadowing my mentors on ward rounds and then moving with them to outpatient clinics to observe in the operating theatre.
Three or four afternoons a week we had the opportunity to join clinical teaching sessions designed exclusively for Gap Medics students that were led by experienced doctors.
I joined Gap Medics with high expectations and really wanted to get the most out of my experience in Tanzania, I specifically wanted to increase my knowledge of Tanzanian culture and their healthcare system. I achieved this through directly observing procedures and continually interacting with the professional staff in the hospital; by seeking answers to my clinical questions through working with my mentors and by researching and studying the variety of cases I observed in the hospital.
Not only did I gain cultural and clinical knowledge in the hospital but also from the Gap Medics staff, who are all native Tanzanian. Participating in the weekly Swahili lessons taught me the basics of the regional language and gave me the skills I needed to communicate with locals I met and patients in the hospital.
Having the amazing opportunity to travel on Safari and interact with the native Maasai people also gave me an incredible insight into Tanzania’s environment and true culture.
Each morning in the hospital all the doctors, nurses, and medical personnel would participate in a staff meeting where internal issues of the hospital and methods of improvement would be discussed. I felt that participating in these meetings allowed me a firsthand look at how the hospital operated behind the scenes and the type of managerial business that had to be conducted to keep facilities up and running.
In terms of my medical knowledge, I feel now that I have a tremendous advantage over other Pre-Medical students who may not have the opportunity to engage in such a program because I was so fully immersed in hospital life and directly observing so many different medical cases. I learned how a huge variety of medical conditions are treated including the involved pharmacology in addition to learning the general methodology behind diagnosis and treatment.
Academically, I feel that I received a medical professional level education on the signs, symptoms, and treatment methods for a variety of conditions. All of the doctors I corresponded with during my placement where extremely knowledgeable and were very gracious in taking time to make sure I understood what they were doing and the trained thought behind their actions. Considering neither myself nor the other students had a medical education the doctors communicated with us about their work amazingly well; they were able to translate their vast array of medical terminology into terms we could understand and follow which allowed us to fully comprehend some very complex situations and learn fast.
Being only a Pre-Med student there are very few other places I would be able to have had this kind of experience and I feel very fortunate, both personally and academically that Gap Medics has made it possible for me to have this type of exposure to real healthcare. Joining Gap Medics has made me very confident about my decision to enter medical school and ultimately pursue a career as an orthopaedic surgeon. Obviously medical school is a tremendous academic rigor, not to mention a financial burden; I believe it is necessary for an individual to be very serious about their decision to journey down that road.
By having this unique opportunity to obtain actual work experience and realize my true passion for medicine I feel more confident than ever before and very excited about applying to medical school. I feel that this has given me the experience of interacting with professional people on a professional level.
Gap Medics has far surpassed any expectations that I originally had; I was able to obtain real medical knowledge and experiences that I truly believe I couldn’t have received from any other program!
I developed so many relationships with individuals from around globe, I got to observe the beauty of the African landscape, I got to experience first hand Tanzanian culture, language, and way of life and most importantly I can confidently say that I have had an experience that will truly leave a lifetime of memories, I couldn’t have imagined the experience being better and would not have changed a thing!
Thanks to everyone at Gap Medics!
Bryant Elrick, College Senior, Colorado, USA – October 2012
If you are a Pre-Health, Pre-Medical, Pre-Nursing, Pre-Midwifery or even Pre-Dentistry student joining a Gap Medics placement this Summer will give you an amazing and fully supported medical work experience program where you will shadow doctors, observe an array of clinical procedures and learn about global healthcare from highly respected professionals!
Spaces for our Summer 2013 program for American Pre-Health students are booking up fast; if like Bryant you are looking for an amazing and educational experience this summer then join our special program throughout May 2013! Click the links below for more information and to apply now, its going to be amazing and places are limited, don’t miss out!