Maria Davis (left) and Kara Middleton (right) with Isabel Cornejo, their site mentor at the Chocco Health Clinic.
Participant in the 2013 ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study
- Hometown: Washington, IA
- Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Minor: Religion
- Graduation: 2013
- Program: International Volunteer HQ, Cusco, Peru — Fall 2012
Insights into Peruvian Healthcare
Note: This is a joint presentation by Maria Davis and Kara Middleton.
Through International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) and their partner organization, Maximo Nivel, we had the amazing opportunity to participate in a healthcare volunteer program in Cusco, Peru for three weeks this past November. The medical placement program we took part in was one of four programs specifically designed for pre-medical students. Maximo Nivel, IVHQ’s partner organization in Peru, selected a clinic for us to volunteer in for the duration of out fellowship and arranged for lodging and meals.
At left: Video of Maria Davis' and Kara Middleton's presentation at the Symposium.
During our fellowship, we volunteered at the Health Post Chocco Clinic, an under-funded clinic on the outskirts of Cusco that caters to low-income families. The clinic is extremely small and only has five rooms, each of which represents a different department: the pharmacy, laboratory, obstetrics, dentistry, and pediatrics. Throughout our three weeks at the clinic we had the opportunity to spend time in each of these departments; however, since we are interested in pursuing a career in women’s health we spent the majority of our time observing and helping Isabel, the obstetrician in the clinic.
Impact of our experience
Overall traveling to Peru was an extremely valuable hands-on learning experience, from which we honed practical skills and values that we could not glean from simply reading a textbook or attending lectures in a classroom setting. We noted several differences between healthcare between the United States and Peru such as the patient-doctor dynamic and sanitation standards, however in most instances the diagnosis and treatment of patients in Peru is not completely different from healthcare in the United States.
We found the experience of working in a different country to be exhilarating and very rewarding. Even though our contributions to the program may have been small, the knowledge and practical experience we gained from this opportunity will be extremely valuable with regards to our professional aspirations. By working in healthcare clinics in Peru, we gained more of an appreciation and understanding of medicine in a completely different cultural context.
Post graduation plans: Take a year or two to work in a scientific research setting and then attend medical school.
What was the best thing that you did while on an off-campus program? Experience the culture and take time to compare it to my own. This has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the world around me and apply my knowledge to other life experiences.
What is one word or phrase that best describes your experience off-campus? Marvelous
Top 3 reasons why you chose to go off-campus:
1. Learn about a new culture.
2. Explore the medical world outside of a textbook and the United States of America.
3. Step outside of my comfort zone and explore a new place.
If you could travel anywhere where would you go? New Zealand
If you could learn to speak any language what would it be? Spanish
What was the best meal that you had while on your program? Ceviche
What was the last movie you saw that made you cry? No idea! :)
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