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I get by with a little help from my friends

People. For me, interactions with other people, building relationships, are what make experiences meaningful. It’s what motivated me to become a doctor, the bond that forms between patient and doctor. It’s why I love to cook, to bring people together over a meal. To date, my interactions with the people of Hyderabad have run the gamut from exceptionally welcoming to downright rude. I can say the same about essentially any city I have ever lived in or visited, but the experience here has definitely been unique. On the one hand, there are the children who shyly approached me with their hands outstretched, who then light up when I return their handshake with a smile. On the other, the hoards of giggling teenagers at an Indian religious festival who continued to obtrusively videotape or photograph us even after asking them politely to stop. There have certainly been some highs and lows throughout this trip, but one of the standout experiences to date has been interacting with the doctors and residents at various hospitals.

 

I feel that America truly is “the land of plenty”, and while in science and medicine the resources for research and education have been slowly declining, we still are lucky relative to many countries. At some point during this trip, our group was discussing what references we use for medical questions. We have access to so many different texts, journals, online sources and applications that at times it becomes difficult to decide which are the most user-friendly, up to date and relevant. In essence, we are given so much information that we have to decide how to best to carve that out into something meaningful and useful. From my limited experiences in Hyderabad, I feel the opposite is almost true. Casual perusal through medical texts show most to be over 10 years old. Rounding on patients in Boston means one person stands at a computer while the rest have our cell phones out for reference, each using a different application. Rounding in Hyderabad, the resident stands with the attending, the chart and the patient. From discussion with faculty and residents, it seems that they start with a foundation of knowledge that they then eagerly build upon, not by heaping information and then whittling it down, but rather through thoughtful questions, careful selection of lectures, surrounding themselves with people that they wish to learn from. I’ve enjoyed my interactions with the residents in particular because they have shown me the things I take for granted, and have reminded me of the most basic but most effective ways to continue my education. I don’t think either process is perfect, American medicine is overstimulated with an excess of information and Indian medicine is desperate for resources, but that’s what makes these sort of international experiences so worthwhile, we share the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves with one another, learn from our counterparts, and in the end come out a little better for it.

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