La Vida Mexicana - A Spanish Medical Experience by Ethan Tomlinson


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La Vida Mexicana - A Spanish Medical Experience by Ethan Tomlinson

  1. 1. Dolores Hidalgo and La Lejona Origins and Destinations Before leaving for Mexico this past summer, I had already been exploring the Spanish language through my coursework at UofL and my first enrichment project in Panama and Costa Rica. In hopes of furthering my fluency and Spanish written and oral skills, I set off for Mexico for a six-week adventure in San Miguel de Allende, an arts and cultural hub, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and popular retirement spot in the province of Guanajuato, Mexico. Not only did I become more fluent in Spanish this past summer but also, I learned a great deal about emergency, clinical, and folkloric medicine, Mexican culture, and the intercultural exchange inherent in performing medical work in another country. This experience was exactly what I had hoped for when I decided I wanted to return to a Spanish-speaking country while exploring the field of medicine, and I cannot say thank you enough to the Brown Fellows Program and the University of Louisville for their support, encouragement, and assistance. Working in the emergency room at Dolores Hidalgo General Hospital and the clinic in La Lejona provided an interesting contrast between medical procedure in a hospital versus a general clinic and a stark look at the realities of being a physician. Despite the occasional stressful situation, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The Red Cross • At the clinic, I was called upon to perform the majority of the physical evaluations while being advised and instructed by the physician I was shadowing. Notwithstanding the diversity of my clinicals, my service at the Red Cross was by and large my favorite aspect of the trip for a number of reasons. • In the emergency room at Dolores Hidalgo, I encountered a variety of ailments and chronic illnesses, some of which were fatal. During my overnight shifts, I was called upon to assist in suturing. I set several casts and splints and performed CPR on one patient. One of my shifts was also spent in the obstetrics ward where I observed a number of procedures including a Cesarean section. • The nature of emergency medicine and ambulance service calls is exciting. Every call is unique and necessitates different strategies, medication, medical knowledge, etc. • I was fortunate enough to work at the Red Cross 50-60% of the time that I was in San Miguel. Over the span of six weeks, I learned a good deal about commonly-encountered illnesses and chronic conditions and was able to get “hands-on” experience in handling medical and trauma patients. • Without a doubt, both of these rotations increased my knowledge of medical Spanish terminology and of commonly-encountered medical problems and the appropriate treatments. • Working alongside Mexican paramedics offered significant insight into Mexican culture, language (especially medical terminology), and alternative methods in emergency medicine (e.g. equipment, medication, certification to perform certain procedures, etc.). Coursework While in Mexico, I took a First Responder course, an advanced Spanish course, and a number of classes where folkloric medicine, medical Spanish terminology, and Mexican cultural beliefs and traditions were discussed. As a result: • I was able to reinforce my progress in the Spanish language in a “classroom” setting while practicing and learning daily in the city of San Miguel. A New Perspective While my trip to Mexico shared some goals with my previous stays in Panama and Costa Rica, I traveled this summer with an additional objective of chief importance: exploration of the field of medicine. This purpose was achieved in several diverse settings each with unique circumstances, protocols, and expectations. 1. A First Responder course taught by two American EMTs 2. A clinical rotation at the Red Cross in San Miguel 3. A clinical rotation at the general hospital in Dolores Hidalgo 4. A clinical rotation at the general clinic in La Lejona • I began to identity the opinions of the Mexican people concerning their world in areas such as faith, politics, education, medicine, technology, socialization, and more. • I learned how to take vital signs, perform tasks suited for a basic EMT, identify common illnesses, evaluate emergency situations, and perform basic life support. The Gringo in México When I wasn’t strolling through San Miguel in scrubs on my way to work or class, I was able to enjoy being a tourist in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in all of Mexico. Some of my favorite sites included: • • • • • • • • Balneario Escondido Place (hot spring!) El Templo de la Cañada de la Virgen Guanajuato, México La Parroquia El Mirador The Rosewood Hotel El Instituto Allende El Parque Benito Juárez