As a pre-med student, shadowing was not a new concept for me going into my study abroad experience. I had experience shadowing a couple of primary care physicians the semester before my study abroad trip. I also have experience working in the an emergency department as a medical scribe, a job which allows me to basically shadow ER physicians. Through these experiences, I have been able to experience different types of medical scenarios, environments, and physician/patient relationships. Shadowing doctors in Mexico though, was a different experience all together.
Since I took finals for my classes on the second to last week of my program, the entire last week was dedicated to shadowing. Most of my shadowing was spent in a private hospital with a doctor who specialized in operating a Hypobaric Chamber. This experience was very unique for me because I had no prior knowledge or familiarity with a hypobaric chamber. It was interesting for me to learn about the health benefits the chamber offers to patients utilizing it as well as to learn about the array of different medical conditions it can treat.
Aside from medical experience I gained, I also really enjoyed the shadowing because of the doctor himself. He was a super intelligent man who clearly enjoyed teaching. To my peers and I, he offered a lot of advice and guidance about life. He questioned us (and made us question) on topics of science as well as topics of life. It was as normal for him to ask us, “Why does a cell die?” as well as “What are your goals in life?”. I believe my peers and I were able to learn a lot from this man because of how clearly passionate he was about his job.
In Merida and around the Yucatan in general, I was about to tour so many different types of medical facilities from professional schools to public clinics. I learned so much from my time observing the different practices used there and tried to connect that to how they are influenced by the public health issues in the region. It was also interesting to learn about the type “global healthcare” they have for every single Mexican citizen and compare that to the medical system used here in the US. Overall, the growth personally and intellectually that I experienced was more than I ever imagined, and I would love the chance to visit again.