Reflections by Notre Dame Senior, Jasmine Moreno, on her Service Trip to Ecuador
Each summer two students work with AHD to gain a service learning experience in the field through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.
I have learned many valuable lessons on my eight-week adventure in Ecuador working with Andean Health & Development. From falling in love with Ecuadorian culture to learning the true meaning of Global Health, these eight weeks were full of new experiences. The most important lesson I learned is that patients are more than their pathology; they are people. They are people with their own thoughts, feelings, and problems.
Since the first day I met Dr. Gaus, he emphasized the importance of looking past a patient’s symptoms and trying to be on the same level as them. You have to understand what they are going through not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Additionally, you have to understand their culture and mentality whether it is rural or western, etc. I will never forget how in every morning meeting when the Family Medicine residents presented the cases they would mention not only the patient’s physical evolution but any family issues they were having or what their work environment is like. They really got to know the patient and always took the time to make sure the patient understood the treatment plan and what was being done for them. They also took the time to just talk to the patient and hear what he/she had to say.
One day at the Hospital in Pedro Vicente Maldonado, there was a patient who would come to the hospital often complaining of multiple symptoms that had no apparent physiological cause. She had spent most of her hospital visit crying and complaining of discomfort until Dr. Herrera came into the room. He pulled up a chair sat next to her bed and asked her what was going on in her life. Even though the hospital was very busy that day he took the time to just sit and talk with her and he listened patiently until she was finished.
I will carry the lessons from my experience forward with me as I enter the medical profession. I have learned the meaning of compassionate care and I hope I can put that into practice. This experience was truly life changing and I can only hope more people get the opportunity to experience all that Andean Health is doing in Ecuador.
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