The physicians we worked with taught us about medical conditions unique to their geographic region that we wouldn't have been able to see in the United States. Due to a lack of education or finances, a lot of patients would not fully comply with the doctor's instructions and their health problems would worsen or continue.
And while I had already planned on pursuing a career in international development in Latin America and the Caribbean, my two-month stay in the Dominican Republic reinvigorated my passion and dedication to creating a better world.
Due to the difference in the economic state there, the health care system has less rules and regulations compared to what I am used to. While I was there I had the opportunity to see a live birth, a cesarean section, and many more amazing things.
The most exciting and world-changing part of the program was in the village of La Piedra. We met a group of wonderful children and adults, while also getting to help them if they were sick.
All of the people from the village were very friendly and the children were fascinated by all the students. The children were captivated by “las gafas de sol” or the colorful sunglasses we brought for them. This experience was extremely humbling and touched me on a personal level. As we taught them about medicine, they taught us about their culture and their lives. It was one of the most memorable clinical settings I have ever experienced.
For weeks I brushed up on my Spanish and studied my First Aid textbooks to prepare for my upcoming program. As soon as I stepped off the bus in urban Santo Domingo however, all my efforts seemed feeble.
I truly learned more on my study abroad in one week than I could ever learn in any classroom. While I initially went on this program to learn about medicine, I came away with much more than advanced medical knowledge. During my time abroad, I learned more than I ever could have imagined about Dominican culture.