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Expected/unexpected

A few corrections to my last post with regards to medical education in Liberia: there is a 5th year of medical school. I just didn’t know about it because all of the fifth year students are off doing public health projects, many in their home districts. In addition, after internship, all doctors are then required to work for two years in a government placement, most of them being in rural locations.

I’ve passed the halfway mark of my time in Liberia-crazy to think I’ll be back in Boston in a little over two weeks. Some unexpected and expected occurrences of the last few weeks:

Expected:
-lots and lots of rain: rainy season is April through November
-(which translates to) lots and lots of malaria
-delicious tropical fruit; guava is my favorite! Also, do fried plantains count as fruit?
-no hot water
-Monrovia is filled with ex-pats and NGOs
-extreme poverty everywhere: Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world

Unexpected:
-The doctors’ dorm has wifi in the common room and A/C in the bedrooms!
-the opportunity to meet an international delegation including several US senators, Condoleezza Rice, and Bono, among others!
-spending my first two weeks here with three other visiting doctors, all from Boston
-participating in a sickle cell awareness walk last weekend

With respect to Dr. Hudspeth’s last post, one other unexpected element of my time here is that I feel like far less of a burden on the hospital staff than I have during prior global health experiences. I think there are several reasons for this:
1) The team doesn’t have to slow down to interpret for me, although occasionally I don’t understand the patients’ Liberian English.
2) My medical knowledge and clinical skills are more advanced than when I was a 4th year medical student, so I can actually contribute to patient care, co-sign students’ orders, supervise some procedures, etc
3) I’ve had the opportunity to teach the 3rd and 4th year medical students, both at the bedside and with more formal lectures.

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Teaching the students how to do a paracentesis. I won’t be complaining about the lack of vacutainer bottles in Boston anymore-here we make our own para “kits” and use a urine bag to gravity!

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Visiting delegation, including several US senators, the American ambassador, and Bono. He asked some great questions about child mortality and how to eradicate malaria in Liberia (“eradicate poverty” was the response of one of Liberia’s few pediatricians)

One comment on “Expected/unexpected

  1. James says:

    Excellent thoughts, Dr Hurst. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences on your return!

    Also, fried plantains: only a fruit by definition.

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