Connie Lee is a senior at Oregon State University, majoring in Microbiology with a minor in Chemistry. Connie interned abroad at the Center for Social Medicine in India through IE3 Global Internships.
As I learn more about microorganisms, my interest in the medical field grew. The medical field can be broadly divided into two fields: clinical work or research work. I have researched in a laboratory setting as well as volunteered in a hospital. However, I have not been able to experience clinical work with doctors in order to gain a true feeling of what doctors do. Besides my background knowledge of medicine from science courses, I grew an interest in learning about cultural differences from my anthropology classes. Thus, in summer 2012, I participated in the public health and medical internship at Center for Social Medicine in Loni, India.
This internship was a great opportunity for me to experience the public health and medical fields in a completely different cultural setting. I participated in a huge variety of interesting programs, such as social programs for sex workers and mobile clinic services. However, the most life-changing experience occurred at the operation theaters, particularly the posting at the maternity ward.
To say the least, the experience at the maternity ward was very intense. I was already anxious about observing my first delivery. Half way through the delivery, I started to feel nauseous and dizzy to the point where I left the labor ward. However, I challenged myself to go back into the labor room and finish observing the entire birthing process. It was self-rewarding to return to the labor ward, because at that moment I grew personally.
The environment setting is very different for pregnant women in India compared to the United States. I noticed that the maternity ward was a lot more crowded, the resources were very limited, the deliveries were usually rushed due to the number of patients, and women did not normally receive individualized care during the actual labor. Ultimately, the standards in both of these countries are on completely different scales. However, I learned to respect that, although the delivery environment is very different through an outsiders’ lens, the system works for the local villagers. The services are provided with no charge to the patients, and babies are still born healthy. Although there are many differences, some even shocking, between the two medical systems, both strive for the same goal of providing health care to people in need.
Last but not least, my experience in the operation theater helped me confirm my interests in surgery medicine. I observed a variety of surgeries including, but not limited to, cataract surgeries, joint/hip replacements, medical termination of pregnancy, open/laparoscopic tubal ligations, kidney obstruction, hysterectomies and more. The experience was very eye-opening as I could never receive the same opportunity in the United States.
I enjoyed the environment in the operation theaters. It is a place where all doctors and anesthesiologist work together to help solve a patient’s problem. I saw how the surgeons work to find a solution, and their quick reactions to find alternative methods if the original method did not work. I found a passion for the human body; the human body consists of both delicate (eyes) and strong (bones) parts. Every part of the body works in harmony to allow an individual to function.
Thanks for this, what a useful insight your experiences gave on how different cultures around the world strive to the one goal of “providing health care to people in need.” I also live abroad in Asia the way things are done here are totally different from back home in the western world but it works.
Thanks for posting this! This is EXACTLY what I want to do in a year or two, and it was great to read about it!