My clinical medicine experience with Vive Peru, although different than what I expected, was everything I could’ve wanted and more.
I came in thinking that I might be placed into a hospital with very limited resources and a necessity for extra hands. This, however, was definitely not the case. The hospital I worked in, Hospital Tomas Lafora in Guadalupe, is one of the largest in the region of La Libertad with many doctors, nurses, and interns present. Even though I was not necessarily needed to actively treat or communicate with patients, I garnered a feel for what working in a hospital is like, a slew of medical skills the doctors taught us during downtime, and an ability to speak in Spanish when the pressure is on.
A normal day consisted of following doctors through their consultations or spending time in the emergency room awaiting an emergency or assisting a patient. During these days, I learned various things about the primary medical concerns and treatments in Peru, the Peruvian health care system, and the medical education system of Peru. Everyone at the hospital was always very eager to talk with us and help us learn as much as we could. On special days we were able to see surgeries. I saw both a hysterectomy and a Cesarean section. The doctors allowed us to view the surgeries up close, giving us an experience that is not easily had in the United States.
As my hospital was quite large, we were not given very many opportunities to give many injections or do any sutures on the patients, but many other volunteers had the opportunity to do so. There are other opportunities to do so, however, such as at the medical campaign completed by the group. In summary, my experience at Hospital Tomas Lafora in Guadalupe was unlike anything I had done before and was an amazing experience I will never forget.