Practicing medicine in a hospital with limited personnel and resources requires additional thought and focus to provide optimal care to patients. The local health care providers have a harder job than I do back in the States. On my second day in the hospital, the nursing staff went on strike because they were not receiving enough support from the hospital and nursing administration.
The emergency medicine residents and graduates have been eager to help me get oriented, to discuss interesting cases, and hear about the differences in practice between Guyana and the United States. Now, after few days of on the job experience, I am much more comfortable in this environment and excited for the weeks ahead of me, to provide both patient care and teaching to the local doctors.
During my brief time at Kijabe Hospital, I was able to meet and interact with multiple people from different backgrounds, nationalities and professions that had all assembled at this particular hospital to serve the mission of the hospital and care for the patients. Though these encounters are often brief, there is a deeper sense of community and common bond in these relationships that is different from common work relationships or friendships.
Medicine often is focused on achieving a “cure” or a better outcome for a disease process. The opportunity to take care of this woman who was left alone by her husband, with her children who were about to be orphans, impressed upon me the need and importance of being able to practice true religion.
In the US, general surgery residents do not get exposed to a lot of urologic surgery since this consists of a separate residency training program. However, in Africa, most general surgeons still perform a lot of urologic surgery. I enjoyed learning a new subset of skills and operations. Overall it was a productive week of learning and delivery of medical care.
While many would view healthcare as a personal “right” or entitlement in the west, in much of the rest of the world, it is still very much a privilege and is treated as such. I feel like it is becoming a more infrequent occurrence for most physicians to encounter patients on a daily basis who are genuinely appreciative of their services and care, even when things do not go as either the physician or the patient wanted. However, this is still encountered in Kenya. Patients are usually thankful, appreciative and respectful.
No matter how much you’ve planned, nothing ever seems to come together to meet your original vision. But, if you remain flexible and open to new ideas, there is always a time and place to make an appreciable difference in the community.