Written by Gealina Dun-Melli, MD, PGY-3 at the Kaiser Permanente Napa-Solano Family Medicine Residency Program while…
It has been a little over 2 weeks since I’ve come back from Honduras. This marks my 7th international medical trip (not that I was keeping track), yet, this brief trip was just as memorable and transforming as my prior trips. The last time I had been to Honduras for a medical missions trip was the week before medical school started. That trip had sprung my passion for global health. This trip has also been amazing in different ways, but has also helped me to be more grounded in the realistic nature of global health work.
As someone who has gone abroad many times and also read books such as “When Helping Hurts” and watched documentaries such as “Poverty, Inc.”, I’ve become more cautious about the negative impact when learners “parachute” in and out of countries for brief trips. Many times, trips like these seem to do learners more good rather than the people they serve. Aware of these facts, I went in with an open mind and open ears.
What Did I Learn?
I think what this trip taught me most was how to practice medicine in a resource limited setting. This is my first trip as a pediatric resident and also the first time I’ve seen and managed patients on my own abroad. This trip humbled me in terms of what I thought my ability to practice medicine was. At Kaiser, we are given so many tools, resources, and “lifelines” and suddenly going to an environment with no internet, a lack of or different medicines that we are used to using, and an increase in patient load per time spent with each patient allowed me to leave my comfort zone and challenge myself.
What I Loved Most About This Trip:
Like most of my prior trips, what I loved most about this trip was getting to know the people in the country. Hondurans are a lovely group of people; they are generous, warm-spirited, kind and optimistic. They greet you with a smile only for you to later find out about a devastating health condition that they are suffering from. They are grateful for what they have and you will rarely find one that is complaining about their own life.