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Medical Volunteering Experiences and Cultural Exploration in Guatemala by Joey Shaw
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Medical Volunteering Experiences and Cultural Exploration in Guatemala by Joey Shaw

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  • 1. Medical Volunteering Experiences and Cultural Exploration in Guatemala Joey Shaw, Class of 2016 Experience at University Hospital Abstract For my project, I traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala to engage in volunteer opportunities as well as interacting with the culture of Guatemala. The volunteer opportunities were based on the communities need, but my involvements were based in part of the medical field. Specifically, I worked at a pediatric clinic and spent much of my time helping the nurses there. After volunteering and observing in a medical discipline as well as experiencing the culture of Guatemala, I returned to the local area to complete my enrichment project. In Louisville, I observed physicians in order to gain more exposure to the medical field. Specifically, I worked with two different teams of doctors at University Hospital. This portion of the project allowed me to acquire more experience in an area that I may possibly be around in the future. Also, it allowed me to see the differences in the local area’s medicinal practices with those in a foreign country. Background Information I designed my summer enrichment project with two main motivations in mind. The first related to my intended future career. I am currently a biology major with the intention of attending medical school. So, I wanted to concentrate part of my project on volunteering and gaining experience in the field. The next main idea I kept in mind while designing my project was my experience with different cultures. Previously, I had only been out of the country during my class Brown Fellows class trip. Due to this, I made sure to travel to another country so I could interact with another culture. Experience in Guatemala In Guatemala, I worked with a program named CrossCultural Solutions. Through this program, I lived in a house in the community with various volunteers from all over the United States and various other places throughout the world. Each weekday consisted of volunteering from approximately 8 AM12 PM. During this time each day, I worked in a medical clinic called Fundacion Pediatrica. Here I helped nurses with checking in children for their doctors appointments as well as helping with some of the treatments. At this placement, I only could communicate with the nurses and usually the patients through the Spanish language. After my volunteering each day, the program took us to various activities in order to experience some of the culture of Guatemala. For example, I went to many history museums observed some of the types of jobs found in Guatemala. Finally, on the weekends, I was able to travel around the country and explore many interesting places. At the University of Louisville Hospital, I spent most of my time with two different teams of doctors as they prepared for and went on their rounds through the hospital. Specifically, I observed general internists. Each day, I was able to listen as the physicians discussed patients and treatments. Although much of the terminology the doctors used was extremely complex, I was fortunate enough to gain some knowledge and a significant amount of exposure to the medical field. Conclusions Overall, my first enrichment project was extremely successful. I accomplished my initials goals that I based this enrichment project on, which included gaining experience in the medical field and interacting with another culture. However, I gained much more unexpected experience as well. For example, I became better at understanding and actually speaking Spanish on a limited basis. Finally, I had the opportunity to observe the style and perspective of life in Guatemala. In the future, I hope to have more enrichment projects that are just as successful. I plan on continuing to explore the medical field and hopefully different cultures, but I also think volunteering will be an important aspect. Although my plans may be subject to change, the enthusiasm I had in completing my first enrichment project will remain for my future projects.