Nicole Chapko
Chicago, Illinois USA

Nicole participated in a medical internship in Cape Town with VACorps in 2016.

“I cannot honestly say that there was nothing about my internship and internship site that I did not like. My site was an absolutely perfect match. I came here wanting to get as much clinical experience as I possibly could and that is exactly what I am walking away with.

“In the past 3 months that I have been here, I have been taught how to do anything and everything from putting in an IV and setting up a drip, to injecting lidocaine and suturing patients, to learning how to read x-rays and determine the type of plaster cast that needs to be put on and how to do so, to even just learning how to treat a patient who comes in with complaints of shortness of breath. I loved how all the doctors and nurses at my site were so eager and willing to help you learn and to teach you how to do anything that you wanted to do. The staff at Site B are some of the most amazing people that I have ever met, they all had my genuine interest at heart and made sure that I was able to do everything that I wanted to accomplish. I developed very close relationships with the doctors and because of that I was allowed to come in and work a Sunday day shift which was probably the most incredible moment of my entire internship experience. I got to spend an entire day helping with chest tubes and suturing dozens of patients, it was probably the day that really solidified in my mind that I do have an immense passion for the medical field and I that I knew I made the right choice in taking this internship.

“Outside of my internship, my most memorable moment in South Africa was doing Garden Route. I went with a small group of friends and it was the most amazing time of my life, I had no idea what to expect when I came to Africa, but Garden Route exceeded everything I had ever thought and made me fall head over heels in love with this country. I would recommend this program to others because if you allow it, your internship can be the most life changing experience and can really help you determine and set a path for what you would like to accomplish in the future. Also, I would recommend this because of the people you meet, I came here not really thinking it would be hard to leave and say goodbye because I did not think I would develop the relationships that I have with the people I have met, but I was proven completely wrong.

“The program has a way of really allowing you to connect with people because you all come over here in a similar boat which allows you to connect and bond. I cannot imagine having gone through this internship without the people who I spent my time here with and I am dreading going back home and not being able to see them everyday.”



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