As expressed in previous blogs, I am certainly not the adventurous or brave type! I am sensitive to many things, so a career in health care did not seem completely realistic for me. I had shadowed a cardiologist and a thoracic surgeon before, but I desperately wanted to participate in field work to make sure that I could handle the medical field.
After my early arrival to Ecuador, I had time to explore my surroundings. Newly found friends and I walked throughout the downtown area – where our hostel was located. But soon, the rest of the group members arrived and we had to pack up for our drive to the Santo Domingo.
I still remember the first morning of our clinical work. I proudly donned my nursing uniform to prepare for my day. I felt power surge through my veins and a tingle shoot down my spine. Even though my career goal is not to be a nurse, I have an enormous amount of respect for the occupation and everyone else in the health care field.
On the way to the Hombro a Hombro clinic, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous about what I would see and how I would react. However, being with a group of friends definitely helped to calm my nerves!
As the day progressed, I became more engulfed in the work. Even though I was just an interpreter, I observed the patient – doctor dynamics. Each doctor seemed to approach their patients in a different manner than the previous. It was quite interesting! I learned that various situations call for different responses. I was also reminded that people are not and should not be defined by their illness.
My experiences abroad helped me to verify that I do want to be a doctor. Furthermore, I was able to decide if I want to do global or local work. I realized that, although I do not want to live outside of the US, I would love to go on other brigades as a medical student and as a physician.
Not only does studying abroad solidify professional desires, but it also exposes students to unique and invaluable opportunities that set them apart from others. I strongly encourage each undergraduate student to take full advantage of Education Abroad in order to help dispel doubts about career paths and intensify their passion.
Photos and Written by Hillary McLean
Hillary is an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador. She participated in a Service Abroad program with Shoulder to Shoulder Global. She is studying Dietetics, and she is pre-med.