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June 9, 2011

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June 9, 2011

I spent 2 months in Ecuador, 2 weeks in Quito and 6 weeks in Puyo, working in clinics, educating communities about dengue fever, surveying for mosquitoes who carry both dengue and malaria, traveling to schools for hearing tests and vaccinations, and interacting with the small communities within the jungle. It was very educational, I gained a greater understanding of prevalent medical conditions within these communities and how the medical system works within Ecuador, and learned about alternative, medicinal treatments using local plants.

Overall this was an incredible experience and I learned a tremendous amount. My one disappointment was that I did not work more with the Malaria Services, since tropical medicine is my passion. If I were to do it again, I would prefer to have spent much more time learning about infectious disease and its impact on these communities, than working in general medicine.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my daily approach to patients. This was my second time visiting Ecuador during my medical training, but it left a much different impression on me now that I actually see patients on a daily basis. Not only am I able to communicate better with my patients, but I have a better sense, culturally of how to interact with them.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it cheaper to participate and offer larger scholarships. I think it is invaluable for everyone in the medical field to be competent in cultural awareness. You really can not provide quality care to a patient without understanding where they are coming from.

June 9, 2011

What textbooks and the Internet teach us regarding international rural and urban medicine is no replacement for real-world experience. My participation in CFHI’s Ecuador Program in April 2011 has forever changed my perception of how a healthcare system is supposed to work and how invaluable the system is to the citizens of Ecuador. I also observed the disparities of the urban-rural healthcare compared to those of my home country, USA, and immediately saw the challenges that they faced.

I feel very privileged to be able to work alongside these hardworking medical professionals and I was able to walk away feeling like I gained a lot of knowledge, wisdom and great passion to help the community whether within my area or abroad. Although my time in Ecuador was short, in the end, I was brought back to why I wanted to become a doctor. It is not about the money, nor the prestige or even the fascination I have about the living system, it is what I saw everyday with the doctors I shadowed; spending time with them and understanding their concerns, pain and suffering. I watched as spending mere minutes with them seemed to ease their pain and suffering, all this without any drugs. It would seem that the medical world forgets the humanity aspect in our profession but after completing this program it brings back the reason why I want to become a doctor.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

appreciating the type of healthcare system the USA has to offer. One extreme example is the drinking water...in the USA, we rarely had to worry about the diseases or illness the water would give us if we decide to drink directly from the sink (although strongly discouraged) but in Ecuador, the risks of parasites or any other type of diseases are ten-folds higher but because of poverty, they do not have any other choices.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

perhaps have more time in the jungle as our trip was only 3 days. I would like to see more of other Shaur community and learn more about their cultures.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I have made life-long friendships and have new appreciation on life.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

May 13, 2011

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May 13, 2011

I feel extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to spend one month in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca with CFHI’s women’s reproductive health program. I knew I wanted to do an international rotation during my 4th year of medical school, but I didn’t have much time to plan one and wanted to make sure that whatever program I did was a well organized clinical experience with a reputable organization that is socially responsible and economically just, and I felt this program fit that description.

I had a lot of specific goals in mind when deciding to do this program in Oaxaca with CFHI. In 4 weeks, I feel I was able to meet all of my goals through this program. They included:
1) To broaden my knowledge about the Mexican public health system and the health-related strengths and challenges encountered in Oaxaca, especially pertaining to indigenous populations.
2) To gain clinical skills in women’s reproductive health, especially in rural and low-resource settings.
3) To increase my Spanish language proficiency in the clinical setting, with a particular emphasis on medical Spanish.

A typical day consisted of going to a “centro de salud”, a small community health clinic in a rural community near Puerto Escondido. Each week I would spend time in a different centro de salud with a different precepting doctpr. The clinics are very small, usually with about 2 exam rooms and a triage area with some boxes with files of medical records. Two doctors, 1 nurse and 1 clerical worker typical staff the clinics and they have a small pharmacy attached.

Everyday in clinic my precepting doctors and I saw a big variety of illnesses. The most common presentations involve pregnant women for prenatal care, reproductive health issues including STDs and especially HPV and cervical cancer; followed by the usual upper respiratory and pulmonary infections (including TB); gastroenteritis/diarrheal illnesses, chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia; injuries like lacerations and fractures. The precepting doctors were all very nice, and gave great feedback and supervision. It was such great practice to do so many histories and physical exams in Spanish. By my third week, I definitely felt that I could conduct a medical history in Spanish competently.

CFHI also set up wonderful supplemental private Spanish lessons that are tailored to review grammar, as well as focus on medical Spanish. In addition, a comfortable homestay was organized for me through CFHI, and worked out extremely well.

I am very grateful for the incredible learning experience I have had in Oaxaca, both in the clinical setting as well as in the daily life setting. Seeing first-hand how medicine is practiced here has given me valuable opportunities to reflect on my own clinical practice as well as my values in practicing medicine. Overall, I think the most valuable thing I am taking away from this month is a positive attitude and enthusiasm for meeting new people in a place as beautiful as Oaxaca.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

CFHI's strength lies in its organization and planning of high quality programs that help its participants meet their professional and personal goals.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Overall CFHI as an organization has done a wonderful job in making sure its program participants are taken care of.

April 15, 2011

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April 15, 2011

I am a 4th year medical student who will soon be starting my residency in family practice. Through out medical school I always wanted to work internationally as I hope to continue to reach out to countries in need of medical care. Child Family Health International (CFHI) allowed me to have this opportunity. I traveled to Quito and Puyo Ecuador for one month in February. I participated in the Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program.

The part I liked most about this program was the variety. I worked in a private clinic in Quito, a missionary hospital in Shell, government run clinics in rural communities, participated in Dengue control and even visited a jungle community. Each experience was unique and left a lasting impression. All of the physicians and nurses were wonderful to work with. Everyone was interested in teaching about the Ecuadorian health system. They were also interested in learning about health care in the US. It was fun and interesting to explain how being a 4th year medical student works in the US and how this compares to medical education in Ecuador.

I not only learned a great deal about health care in Ecuador, but was also directly immersed in the culture. CFHI allows participants to live with host families. This is vital to any international experience. I was able to eat the local food, experience culture and tradition and practice my Spanish on a daily basis. Also, during my first week in Ecuador I attended daily Spanish classes. This was a great opportunity to practice and improve conversational skills as well as medical vocabulary. CFHI structures their programs in a way that allows for opportunities to learn and explore.

My experience with CFHI is one that I will never forget. I would highly recommended this organization and program to anyone who is interested in learning about another culture as well as experiencing medical care in a different country.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Spending a month in Ecuador gave me a greater appreciation for health care in the United States. It allowed me to what other countries struggle with on a daily basis where we take these things for granted-clean water, good nutrition and general access to health care.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would not make any changes to CFHI. It is a great organization with a great purpose and mission.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

February 28, 2011

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February 28, 2011

I spent one month in India doing the Urban/Rural Himalayan rotation through CFHI. It was an absolutely unbelievable experience that changed my life. I am a physician assistant student from Michigan, about to graduate and start my career. The month in India counted towards one of my clinical rotations, and was probably the one that I gained the most knowledge in. Not only did I learn about medicine and health care in an under served area of the world, but I learned about life and culture as well.

I was able to spend two weeks in DehraDun, India. Here I was able to really grasp the lifestyle of people in an urban setting. I worked in several different hospitals and clinics, and CFHI really was helpful in letting me get the most out of my experience as a future medical provider. I worked with such a variety of physicians, in a wide variety of settings. The ability to see the differences and similarities between India and the US was something that I really appreciated. Getting around in the city was a little overwhelming at first, but once we got the hang of taking the vikrams and rickshaws it was alot of fun. It only takes one time of getting completely lost to learn how to pay attention to where your stop is supposed to be. We stayed with a host family in Dehradun, which was amazing. Our family was so welcoming and friendly. They really made us feel like we were part of their family. Meals were prepared for us three times a day, which were all delicious and authentic. I really enjoyed my two weeks in the city.

We also got to spend two weeks in a rural setting in villages in the foothills of the himalayas. The scenery was some of the most beautiful that I've ever seen. The village of Patti was where we worked in a small clinic that was run by a doctor who practices ayurvedic medicine. Here we helped people in the local village, but also got to hike medicine to surrounding villages as well. That was my favorite part of my whole experience in India. It was nice to be able to help these people that usually would have to walk three hours or more on their own just to be seen for something as simple as heartburn or a skin infection. The hike was beautiful, and the whole experience was something that I will never be able to forget. Mussoorie was also a beautiful rural city that we worked in. We stayed at the missionary hospital and worked with several different doctors seeing patients in the clinic and also doing surgeries in the OR. The skills and knowledge I learned while working in those underserved, rural areas is something that will stick with me throughout my entire career as a physician assistant.

I couldn't have asked for a better experience than the one I had while in India. CFHI did an amazing job of organizing and accommodating my stay in India. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity and would recommend it to anyone interested in helping people and learning what health care is like in other countries.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As a future physician assistant interested in working with the under served I will take with me everything I've learned about under served medicine in India. I know have groundwork for what rural health care is all about. Being able to utilize the resources that I have, in helping patients to the best of my abilities. Also, it will be nice to help patients get the access to the resources they need for proper treatment and care.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The only criticism I have is that I wasn't able to do as much hands-on work as I would have liked. As a third year PA student, I would have liked to scrub in on surgeries and have more direct patient care, but I know it is difficult with the language barrier that existed.

February 7, 2011

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February 7, 2011

In December 2010 I spent 4 weeks volunteering in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I went through Child Family Health International and participated in their women's reproductive health program. CFHI provided clinical visits, a home-stay, and medical Spanish lessons.

I spent each of the 4
weeks and a different clinical site. 3 of the 4 weeks were at public health clinics and 1 week was spent in labor and delivery at the local hospital. I was able to assist in 4 natural deliveries, observe 4 cesareans, and observe an appendectomy. In the clinics I found fetal heart rates, listened to patients hearts and lungs, removed sutures, and performed breast exams and pap smears. I was able to witness patient care in impoverished communities and understand the lack of medical resources in remote areas. To cope with poverty and sparse medical resources, preventative medicine, nutrition, and education were the main objective of community doctors. I was able to witness illnesses not commonly seen where I work in California such as leprosy, tuberculosis and dengue. The medical education I received in Puerto Escondido could not have been obtained without volunteering abroad.

The home-stay experience in Puerto Escondido was as important as my medical education. My home-stay family welcomed me into their family and helped me feel like part of the community. This provided me with compassion toward my patients in the clinic since I viewed them as members of my own community.

CFHI also provided Spanish lesson. The lesson focused on medical Spanish and I found that what I learned in class was useful in clinic. Also, my Spanish teacher discussed the healthcare system in Mexico with me and made sure I understood how the community accessed medical care. We also visited traditional mexican midwives in an effort to best understand community medical perspectives.

The 4 weeks I spent with CFHI were some of the most influential weeks of my life. I learned about global medicine, improved my Spanish, and gained a new family. I recommend this experience to anyone interested in medicine, cultures, and making great friends!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My experience in Mexico has given my medical career a foundation to help underserved communities and break though language and cultural barriers. Also, through the friends I made during my volunteer trip, I feel like a part of the community I served. In turn, I am grateful that the work that CFHI does benefits my family abroad.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would promote more fundraising for interested students. CFHI fees are used to pay community and medical coordinators abroad, home-stay families, and language teachers. These expenses should not be cut but do result in intimidatingly high fees. I was able to fundraise within my community and cover the cost of my program. I urge CFHI to advertise successful fundraising events so that interested medical professionals are not deterred by costs.

January 27, 2011

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January 27, 2011

CFHI offers global health care programs in South Africa, India, South America, and Mexico. In the fall, I participated in their Health Care Challenges in Cape Town, South Africa. As a medical student, I worked for two months in secondary district hospitals: Victoria Hospital and G.F. Jooste Hospital. Pre-medical students had an additional option for a preceptorship at Eerste River Hospital. The program includes rotations with South African medical students and residents. It could either be specialty specific or exploratory.
I worked in the medicine department at Victoria and orthopedics in Jooste. My rotation in internal medicine was along side 4th and 6th-year University of Cape Town medical students. We rounded, discussed cases, worked-up patients, performed technical duties for residents, had classes, and bedside tutorials. Without MRIs, CTs, and U/S equipment for the department, doctors relied heavily on history and physical exams for diagnosis and treatment. There were a predominant number of patients with HIV/TB and young patients with terminal illnesses. At Jooste, I worked closely with residents admitting patients in clinic and assisting in theater. Most patients were involved in community violence, motor vehicle injuries, or complications associated with HIV/TB. The staff was engaging and accessible.
CFHI students boarded with a middle-class Coloured family in Vanguard Estate. They provided meals, sleeping quarters, and an initial introduction to the history of Cape Town. A driver transported students to and from the hospital. To explore the rest of South Africa, students have to rent their own vehicle or hire a taxicab. Public transportation is not advised due to security concerns. CFHI local directors have weekly meetings and can be reached at anytime for questions or concerns.
Cape Town is a tourist destination and accommodates vacationers with scenic views, historical bus rides, museums, beaches and nightlife. The CFHI directors will take paying students on a tour of the Eastern Cape and the Winelands if the group is four or more.
I highly recommend CFHI Health Care Challenges in Cape Town, South Africa for students and graduate health care providers. The program is an excellent medical education and cultural experience for students willing to study independently and engage respectfully with staff and the communities they serve. As much as I wanted to learn how medicine is practiced and have a "jol" in Cape Town, I was also an ambassador to my country and to my profession. I had a wonderful time exchanging clinical approaches and sharing American cultures with newfound colleagues and friends. I learned to be more resourceful, not only in the hospital, but also in finding avenues in building relationships with the people of South Africa that traverse national, cultural, racial, and economic boundaries. Doors opened for me. When I return, I know I will always have a place in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

exchanging medical knowledge, sharing American ways of life, and understanding South African cultures.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

suggest participants have some physiology, anatomy, or pathology background. It would also be less expensive and safer if a vehicle was purchased for students to explore Cape Town.

December 31, 2010

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December 31, 2010

My hope is that other parts of the world will see India as our team has seen it—a country of ancient and complex traditions, a richly diverse people embedded in art and culture, a place where creativity is rooted in hope and vision, and a nation where family and friends are the center of everything. This was made possible by CFHI.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

caring for impoverished peoples.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

provide the preceptors with more information in advance regarding program participants and their individual levels of training.

December 30, 2010

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December 30, 2010

My initial discovery of CFHI's global health programs surfaced in a conversation I had a few years back. A good friend of mine (who also happens to be an RN) had just received her nursing license. We were out for a celebratory dinner discussing the motivating factors that propelled her into the health field, the RN program specifically. Of the examples she named, CFHI's Reproductive Health program in Quito, Ecuador was one that she regarded as having a deeply important impact on her health perspective. Her month-long participation in that program helped solidify her passion to pursue and provide quality health care as an RN.
Years later I found myself with a window of time and opportunity to embark on the very same global health path she so highly and warmly regarded. In Fall 2010, I spent 2 full months (October and November) participating in CFHI's Reproductive/Women's Health Program in Quito, Ecuador. I chose this program in particular because of my long-term employment at a family planning clinic, and because of my passion for working with clients who are seeking knowledge, skills and empowerment to best protect their health. My medical career goal is to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, and since there wasn't a specific global health program with this focus, I chose the area of health I felt most familiar with: Reproductive Health.

Over the two months I spent participating in CFHI's global health program, I learned a wealth of information about health that extended beyond the Reproductive realm. Each week in Quito I was assigned to a specific preceptor in a specific health center providing services not limited to Women's Reproductive health; I'd spend one week making rounds on newborns/mothers in the Pediatrics ward, learning about post-natal care expectations; the next week I'd scrub in on surgeries in the military hospital. I certainly sat in on a fair number of OBGYN preceptors conducting women's health consultations, but it was what I learned during that unexpected time served working in areas of health I was unfamiliar with that left a huge impact on me.

I learned a lot about Ecuador's healthcare system by discussing health care access, education, socioeconomic class and ethnic background with my mentors and preceptors. These mentors include the CFHI's Quito Medical Director and local homestay coordinator with whom I spent a great deal of time interfacing with. Talking with them about what I saw and experienced in the health centers helped bring me clarity about their country's healthcare stratification; what % of the population uses insurance or private pays for services, what % needs and utilizes government assistance, SS, or free healthcare.

I learned about how religion, education and customary social/cultural schools of thought (i.e. machismo) weigh heavily on Ecuador's society, and individual minds; I saw how the cultural "way" dictated the population's attitude towards healthcare, especially in Women's Reproductive Health. Healthy sexual practices aren't discussed openly between parent-child or in schools, contraception isn't widely accepted or used for the sake of upholding religious belief systems and satisfying patriarchal demands.

Spending one week in Quito's public adolescent maternity hospital exemplified a country's level of education and a value system heavily entrenched in Catholocism. Each moment I spent with a newborn baby was a reminder of this, and I was truly fascinated by being on the other side of the coin---- my work at the family planning clinic primarily focused on prevention: pregnancy, STI, breast/cervical cancer; in Quito I spent the bulk of my time observing life circumstances that were past the prevention stage. It gave me the chance to examine culture in America, in the west (California), and within my immediate social circles (friends and family.) It also made me aware of my personal convictions re: healthcare. What aspects of health in Ecuador's culture really tested my notions of "acceptable, normal" and who was I to determine what was "right", "wrong" or an act of "miseducation." The moments that caused me to question belief systems in place within myself really stretched me beyond limits I never knew possible. and it is these reflections upon the state of health care in Quito that can broaden my understanding of client needs, beliefs and culture here in the states. It helped me better understand where the need IS and helps me narrow down where I want to focus my medical efforts once I am a practicing ultrasound care: the public sector for underserved, impoverished populations.
I left Quito, Ecuador realizing that I am in complete agreement with my friend with the RN license. My experience with CFHI left me energized, inspired and ready to complete the medical path I started; it made me aware of health conditions and beliefs surrounding healthcare that I will be sure to consider when serving future populations in my role as ultrasound technician. I want to best serve the client's needs, not my own.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the insight I've gained into health care access, conditions and beliefs about health in a latin american country. I will continue to inform myself, self-educate and keep abreast on the state of Ecuador's healthcare system because I've invested much care and interest into the people/patients I encountered while living there. Also, my experience in Quito, Ecuador helped solidify my decision to pursue a career in health (Ultrasound Technology.)

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If possible, it would be great to see CFHI create more global care programs for specialized health professions; I was impressed to see a Dental Health program in Quito, and I would have loved to see expansion into mental and social health programs as well. I am well aware of how much work, time and money is invested into each anchor (program) so my suggestion of this is something I would love to see in the future as CFHI continues to grow and gain more global support.

December 18, 2010

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December 18, 2010

Last year I decided to leave my job in finance to pursue my growing interest in global health. Because my education and work experience were in business and finance, and not in medicine or the sciences, I felt it was necessary for me to gain as much understanding of what it is like to be a global healthcare worker and to gain experience on the field. Through prior volunteer work with CFHI, I knew that its global healthcare programs would provide for the education and experience that I needed and wanted.



In September of this year, I participated in CFHI's Public Health & Community Medicine program, which is based in Delhi, India. The program provided an exceptional introduction to global health.

The program focused on the challenges of the delivery of health care to India’s underserved and marginalized communities. It involved visiting and learning about healthcare organizations that provide support services to a variety of populations located in and/or around urban and rural areas of Delhi. These organizations address key healthcare challenges facing India, including unsanitary living conditions, high HIV/AIDS infection rate, increase in the number of marginalized persons, and providing for the many visually-impaired persons. The program provided an opportunity to learn some of the most pressing healthcare issues faced by India and the initiatives in place to combat them. In addition, the program was instrumental in providing a set of tools that I can use as a future healthcare worker to address the many healthcare challenges of developing countries.



What made this program a success was how well it was coordinated. The CFHI staff responsible for the program provided great front and back-end support. The US coordinators were responsive to all of my inquiries regarding pre-departure information and what to expect, while the Delhi coordinators made sure that my curriculum included some areas of interest.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The program and the people who are part of the program were instrumental in confirming that working with the many varied healthcare issues faced by the people in developing countries is what I would like to do in the future.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

It would be beneficial for program participants to be provided with a more detailed description of each healthcare organization and additional statistical information on the issues each is trying to address. In addition, providing information on current issues affecting the local area and how they in turn affect the participating organizations would give the participants a better understanding of some of the pressing issues that the organizations might be facing.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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