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Review for Child Family Health International, San Francisco, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

This past November I went with Child Family Health International (CFHI) on their Healthcare Challenges in Cape Town, South Africa program. I worked at a public hospital called GH Jooste in Manenberg, a township located right outside Cape Town. I experienced first hand how doctors and nurses had taken care of patients while the hospital was understaffed, overworked and had limited supplies. However, during my time there, the doctors still took time out of their busy days to teach me about a wide variety of tasks including reading ECG graphs, taking blood, interpreting patient histories and lab results, as well as minor surgeries. I shadowed doctors in the trauma department for 3 weeks and then the orthopedic clinic for 2. There I was allowed to apply pops (casts) under supervision and scrub in to observe orthopedic surgery.

My days would begin with rounds, and because GH Jooste was a teaching hospital, every staff member (doctors, nurses, students) participated. Each patient was examined and the resident or supervisor in charge would make each a new “case,” explaining how one would come to a clinical diagnosis and plan out a treatment. Most of the time the doctor would do a quick physical examination, read the blood results and be able to identify what was wrong. As a pre-med student, I came into the program having only a basic biology background and whenever I was lost, someone would always take the time to walk me through each step.

My homestay family, along with the local coordinator and medical director, were amazing and I couldn’t have asked for more. They always called to check in on me and my homestay family was accommodating, warm and welcoming—I felt right at home on the very first day. I still keep in contact with all of them and I miss them dearly!

This program was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and it was truly life changing. I originally chose this program because I needed to figure out if I wanted to pursue medical school. When I returned, I had no doubt that I wanted to become a doctor. I really hope that other students, whether or not they are going into the medical field, take advantage of CFHI’s programs because what you gain is a once in a lifetime experience.

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Role:  Volunteer