How has this experience influenced your future career goals? (Confirmed, shifted, clarified, etc.)
This amazing experience has definitely confirmed and even slightly shifted my career goals. There are a few different things that I experienced to cause this shift and confirmation. Firstly, it has confirmed my hopes to become a Physician’s Assistant. I always knew I wanted to practice medicine and even worked full time as an EMT. However, the level of patient interaction and the type of care I got to experience in Belize was similar to what I would want to do as a PA. The love, passion, and caring I felt for these people while I was treating them completely overwhelmed me. Each time I was talking with a patient or taking a blood pressure, I knew this is exactly where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. Second, before we left for Belize we had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Schroeder via Google Hangout during one of our classes. She is an incredible pediatric oncologist that spends half of each year living in North Carolina working at Duke, and the other half of the year working and living in Tanzania attempting to start a pediatric oncology program to assist the children living there. I originally thought I wanted my medical career to be strictly United States based where it was comfortable and safe for me. The idea of living in another part of the world and practicing medicine terrified me, and I never wanted to uproot my life and my traditions to live somewhere else. However, after speaking with Dr. Schroeder and experiencing medical care in Belize, my mind has changed. I never thought about the idea of temporarily living somewhere else for a certain amount of time each year and then coming back home. That way, you have the comfort of your own culture and home while still being able to influence and help others in developing countries and expand your global health knowledge. To me, this is the best of both worlds and something I would love to do. She has inspired me so much to really use the medical knowledge I have and will gain in the future to help those in need. Once I was actually in Belize and working in the clinics, that thought was confirmed even more. I quickly got over the cultural obstacles and immersed myself in their lifestyle. Being able to communicate effectively with each patient due to the fact that I speak very good Spanish allowed me to connect with them on a very personal level. I felt so amazing being able to speak with them and get them the help they desperately need and deserve. In the States, any kind of medical care is rewarding, but there is something about medical work overseas that changes your perspective. A multivitamin is over the counter and underwhelming in terms of medication here at home. When I was in Belize, telling a patient we had multivitamins for him or her and their children put a smile on their face and a spark in their eyes that you could never imagine. Something as simple as vitamins mean the world to people who are struggling to get by each day. We have the resources to be able to provide that for them and I fully believe everyone should take advantage of that fact and help as many people as we can. I knew prior to this course that I wanted to be a PA, but this trip has just confirmed and expanded that even farther. I now have a fire lit inside me to travel the world and use my medical knowledge to help as many people as I can, and to let them teach me about their culture.
“Become a citizen of the world”