I wiped the sweat off of my brow as I escorted a patient to get her vitals checked and proceeded to the waiting area to call out “número noventa y ocho.” A woman with 5 children walked up and gave me a paper with the number 98 on it. I motioned the family to my makeshift office – a couple of chairs on the back porch of the church with the scorching Guatemalan sun as my light source. My body was completely drained after spending all morning working the vitals station and then switching over to the patient history station. I suddenly remembered sitting through multiple patient consults in a doctor’s office during my past internship. I remembered how the doctor treated each patient as if he or she was the first person he saw of the day, with the kind of respect and undivided attention each of them deserved. I looked at the woman and her children sitting in front of me, her sweat carrying pain and exhaustion as it rolled down her face; she must’ve been waiting all day to be seen. I quickly cast my selfish complaints out of mind, smiled at the children, and started to take the family’s history.
My trip to Guatemala over spring break is one filled with experiences that have played a crucial role in my journey to becoming a physician. I will never forget the man who told me he walked for over two hours just to be seen by a doctor or the two women I spoke with in the waiting area who were telling me how untrustworthy the doctors at their local hospital are. They did not feel respected or truly cared for when they tried to seek medical care. Such circumstances are difficult to ignore. I am very privileged to have a wide array of opportunities in America and I want to live a life caring for the medical needs of others. This trip helped solidify my desire to pursue such a path and I would definitely go on another medical mission’s trip with IHG.
- Zhanna Dariychuk