I mostly chose Cape Town based on VAC itself. I had not found another company that allowed me to plan my own program without going through my own school. Africa was a place I had never been before and was out of my normal realm of travel. I also had heard so much about how beautiful Cape Town was and I wanted to experience that for myself.
I loved the freedom I had at my internship site. As uncomfortable and daunting it was at first, once I adjusted and gained confidence I was able to move from one specialty to another and later was able to practice my skills. Getting to know and learn from all the doctors and nurses allowed me to gain confidence in my caretaking abilities.
This trip definitely challenged me both personally and professionally. Personally, I had situations where I had to reevaluate my attitude towards a situation and being an adult on my own in a foreign country for the first time. I thought I had grown as an adult in college (which I have) but this was a whole different experience. In a professional regard, it was very interesting to see the differences between the South African health care system with the urgency and organization as compared to the United States. The Doctor’s bedside manner was also very different with such a lack of knowledge and health literacy in the locals. I also became very observant to patient’s reactions and physical cues in regards to pain which was quite helpful with the language barrier.
I can’t say there is one thing in particular that I love most from my experience at my internship. There was such a variety from community assaults (probably shocked me the most), to casting children’s broken bones, stab wounds, chest tubes, births, and more. I loved how much I was able to see and learn in such a short amount of time and reflecting on it all I think of so many faces and stories.
Personally, I liked how long I stayed because I was able to get adjusted and learn a lot and by the time I was getting home sick and realizing all my responsibilities I had at home it was time to go. I did like being able to meet so many people from across the world in Rent-a-Room houses while here.
I would recommend this program to someone else just for the growth. I grew as an adult and as a professional in the field I’m interested in. I fell even more in love with another country/culture and with the health care field. What I’ve learned about myself and medicine has been priceless. My cousin just so happens to be following in my footsteps nest summer!