What is there to say about Africa that can be said with words? I’ve tried repeatedly to verbalize the sentiments that occurred to me while on this expedition, and I repeatedly failed. It is impossible to convey the profound lessons that I observed and was taught. All attempts at such a thing sound empty and hollow.
There are so many aspects of this trip that were remarkable. Starting with the foundation of the trip, our leadership was outstanding. Not only were they excellence at organizing this expedition for us, they also understood the intensity of the experiences that we would have here. They encouraged us to think deeply about our time there, and gave us several tips along the way to help with that. I appreciated the firesides in the morning to help us group together. Not only did it help us feel more unified as a group, but it gave us the opportunity to reflect upon what we saw, felt, and the different traits that we developed in ourselves. The strong character traits of our leaders and their sensitivity to our new emotions set a tone in our group of companionship and the love that is frequently lacking in large groups like this.
In addition to our fantastic leadership, our group is composed of many incredible individuals. All of the members of our team were kind and compassionate, not only to each other but also to the people in the Malawi. I have so many amazing examples of people reaching outside of themselves in order to serve those around them. I honestly feel that we couldn’t have hand picked a better group of people. I felt privileged to be working alongside our physical therapists, the staff and nurses from Ameritech college, the pre-PAs and the rest of the group.
This was such a human experience. It breached the divide between medical knowledge and the art of medicine. I experienced first hand what it was like to comfort someone who really needed me to be there. This mother was going through an extremely painful ordeal, without the assistance of pain meds to numb the pain. In this moment of intense vulnerability, I felt an intense connection with this woman that has burned its way into my heart. I am training to become a medical provider. I have so much knowledge that one day I will be able to use to help many people. However, in this moment, holding the hand of this woman who quietly suffered, I understood that I will not only need medical knowledge to practice medicine. In order to truly heal my patients, I will need to remember to comfort them as well as treat them.
Being a part of this service trip has made a great impact on the direction that my life will take. A major lesson that I took away is the importance of human relationships on practicing medicine and the impact that it has both on the patient and on me, as the provider. As I continue my education, especially through my rotations, this is a lesson that I hope to revisit time and again. It may be easy for me to forget that while I am practicing medicine, I am also treating a person who also needs comfort to help him or her to heal.
– Christy H.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions