Participating in the IMA pre-medical internship has been a life changing experience for me. The program mentors, resident chef, and local support staff were always helpful and accommodated any need that I had. Working in the hospital definitely tested me in ways that I never imagined. I saw a lot, and I experienced a lot. Most of all, I learned a lot. Every doctor that I came in contact with was more than willing to teach me and allow me to interact with patients.
Riding to Coast Provincial for my first day of rotations, I did not know what to expect. I was filled with feelings of anxiety and joy; I was about to embark on a once in a lifetime experience. As I made my way to the gynecology ward, many thoughts rushed through my head. What would I see? What would my mentor doctor think of me? I was greeted by the warm embrace of Dr. Rehema, and I knew that everything was going to be alright. My time spent at Coast General taught me so much. Not only did I learn about medicine, but I learned about myself. With each patient I saw in the hospital, I gleaned medical knowledge and learned about not only my humanity, but the humanity of the people around me.
During my internship, I spent a large portion of my time in the wards dealing with women and children. In each of those wards, despite seeing women laboring, children in agony, and innocent newborns fighting for their lives, there was so much beauty and strength to be found. One of the first things you notice going being in the wards is the immense strength of the women; not just the strength of women in labor, or the mothers watching their children fight off illness, but of the female nurses and doctors. The female doctors displayed a level of confidence that I had never seen before. They were always sure of their work and what they knew; they were never afraid to speak up concerning a patient’s diagnosis and why their diagnosis was correct. Despite being fierce and knowledgeable of their field, every female doctor I came in contact with was kind and gentle with me as well as their patients. I could not always understand what they would say to their patients, but each doctor took their patient’s hand and gave them caring, reassuring looks. Where I was concerned, each doctor took their time to explain cases to me and should be as a future physician: sure of my knowledge, yet humble enough to care for my patients and those around me.
I learned an immense amount about myself during the four weeks I spent in Mombasa. The first thing I learned was that obstetrics and gynecology was my calling. I absolutely loved being in the labor ward and realized that I could see myself being there everyday. The next thing I learned was that my passion for helping people was greater than I thought. I absolutely loved doing hygiene clinics. I gained a sense of fulfillment that I had never experienced before every time I saw the smiling face of a child that I had just received a new toothbrush.
My internship with IMA was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned a lot about medicine; more importantly, I learned about myself. Medicine is not just about taking care of someone’s health: it’s about recognizing the patient’s humanity as well.