After a long day of traveling, I arrived in late Wednesday evening. I traveled with two of the other med students and Dr. Cerrato, the primary doctor who will train and accompany us, to our living quarters. I was pleasantly surprised to find out we have access to the Internet, plumbing, warm water, ECT.
I was introduced to a few of the other students, including my roommate Leslie. After each interaction I’ve had with her, I’m more and more sure that I am here for a reason and this experience will be an unforgettable one. Her determination to help the people of Managua, learn Spanish, and become an excellent physician are inspiring. I’m confident that she will make a wonderful OB-GYN! For the past four months she participated in an immersion program in Costa Rica, so in our joint effort to make the most of this opportunity, we’ve decided to only speak in Spanish with one another.
Our long day of training on Thursday began promptly at 7 with a large cup of coffee and a delicious Nicaraguan breakfast of arroz con fijoles and huevos (accompanied by some pepto- just in case). Dr. Cerrato taught interactive seminars on basic doctor-patient interactions, vital signs, general/specific body exams, and urine/glucose tests. We discussed the most common health issues (and their causes) in the communities we will be serving, as well as how we plan to address these problems. We finished up the afternoon with a course on Spanish medical terminology and a few fun learning activities.
Tomorrow morning we are going to visit the community of La Concha. We will split up in small groups to make house visits so that the local people are informed about the clinic we are opening near their neighborhood. We were given community health assessment forms that we must fill out during the visit. I was quickly reminded of how lucky so many of us are in the US when I saw one of the questions. It read, “What type of bathroom is present in the home?”- Answers choices include flushing toilet, latrine, latrine without cover, and no toilet/latrine. There were many other similar questions about the state of amenities (or, rather, lack there of) on our forms. In the afternoon, we will finish our pre-clinic training.
I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of information I need to know before our first day in the clinic on Saturday. There are just so many disease, medications, procedures, ECT that I’m not familiar with in English, much less in Spanish. This trip will no doubt be a learning experience. It was recommended to us that we continued individual preparation this evening before dinner, so Leslie and I are reviewing our packets of medical Spanish and some of the more complicated exam procedures. We acted out a basic physical exam in Spanish and then switched roles. Who knew “playing doctor” at age 20 would be so beneficial!