Her placement was with Floating Doctors, a non-profit organisation whose stated mission is to ‘reduce the present and future burden of disease in the developing world, and to promote improvements in health care delivery worldwide.’
“I started my experience with the Floating Doctors with a 4-hour hike, travelling to the most remote community in the mountains, Las Sabanas.
I soon got to know my new colleagues, a mixed team of students and healthcare professionals from around the world. It was fantastic to share stories and experiences with fellow healthcare professionals from such varied backgrounds.
During our time there we saw more than 150 patients from nearby villages and communities. The scope of disease affecting patients in Panama is vast. I was amazed to see families of 8-10 presenting with such varied problems; GI worms, scabies, head lice, headaches, backaches, dehydration and leishmaniosis were just some of the conditions I saw. This was an entirely novel experience for me and not one that I will forget soon.
I particularly enjoyed spending time with the local children where I was able to teach them how to wash their hands with soap and brush their teeth effectively.
In the second week we held two clinics; in Tierra Oscura and Valle Escondido. There we provided home visits for housebound patient and were able to give information on a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding Diabetes. ‘Sugar-free’ is a not a commonly used term in Panama, and I hope that the information we provided will help for many years to come. We saw a wide range of cases again, such as pityriasis versicolor, soft tissue injuries and patients needing contraceptive injections. In total over 200 patients were seen.
We performed weekly visits to Casa de Asilo, a state-run elderly care home in Bocas Town, Isla Colón.
Towards end of my stay we held an ‘ultrasound party’ on our base. For the first time in my career I was able to perform ultrasounds independently. It was a skill I picked up rather quickly and was soon successfully able to identify the baby’s sex and check the placenta. It was an amazing experience.
I cannot be grateful enough for what I experienced during my adventure with the floating doctors. I have always had a passion for helping people and making them smile, but the trip helped me to understand this even more.”
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