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Child Family Health International
October 18, 2011

Just before embarking on the Andean Health program in Quito, Ecuador, I had finished my training as a medical assistant at my local community college. I am thankful and appreciative for this experience because it’s uncommon for students in vocational training programs to travel abroad and most do not have the financial means experience health care in a global context. Without the scholarship that I won through my community college I would not have had this opportunity.

I spent one action packed month in Quito Ecuador. I lived with a vibrant 80 year old woman, who I call my host abuela (grandmother), in a ground story flat in the north part of town. She is a retired grade school grammar teacher; I couldn’t have asked for more in terms practicing and improving my Spanish. She introduced me to local cuisine through her culinary feats which inspired me to go out into Quito and try different foods. I love the hearty meat broth soups with hominy, the tomales, and grilled plantains.

Quito is the second highest capital and I certainly felt it with loss of appetite and when I walked around the block my feet just dragged along. Quito is a beautiful city nestled in a valley that is longer than it is wide; it runs north to south. The landscape included rolling mountains and volcanoes and found it easy to orient myself to Quito since the mighty Pichincha Volcano loomed to the east. I spent my first week was spent acclimating to the altitude and learning my way around on foot, bus and taxi cab to get from and to Spanish school and my clinical rotations. I enjoyed riding bus because it was a true cultural immersion. Each bus had personalized decorations and music, street musicians hop on to play a tune then hop off and vendors sell their wares for a few stops.

I often saw the other participants in my program who became second family to me. I delighted in learning about their ambitions to become nurses or doctors; two participants were studying to become naturopathic doctors. On weekends we traveled together to Otovalo, renown its colorful market, the town of Mindo cloud forest which is known for being in the cloud forest and having mind dizzying zip lines, the town of Banos where we went white water rafting.

The clinical rotations were fantastic! I spent my first week in the outskirts of Quito at a public clinic/Centro de Salud where I shadowed a family practice doctor who saw migrant workers. I spent my second week in a maternity ward where I witnessed live births for the first time- both vaginal and caesarian. In my third week, I shadowed a pediatrician at the recuperation ward for teen mothers…In my last week; I observed surgeries at the military hospital. I found the doctors were personable approachable and allowed me to assist them when I felt ready and comfortable. I found assisting in newborn exams very memorable because I will never the the sound of the fast paced newborn heart beat.

These are the experiences are priceless to me and will be my introduction to health care and feel that it prepares me for a career in healthcare. Also, the experiences remind me that I that employers seek and I felt that my experience at CFHI gave me that advantage. I recently accepted a job with my city’s health department to work in a clinic that serves the transgendered and homeless population. I recently sat in a panel interview with hiring nurse managers from several clinics who were impressed that I did this. I had other clinics that wanted to hire me and I am thankful that my experience in Ecuador has given me a global perspective on health.

The Great!

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

Giving me valuable health care experience and a global view of health care

Ways to make it better...

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

Do more outreach in community college to diversify participants in the program

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & I took vital signs for patients in free clinics .