Infectious disease rotation in Puyo, Ecuador

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by DenverBioNerd, Jun 13, 2011.

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  1. DenverBioNerd

    DenverBioNerd 10+ Year Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    In February and March I spent time in Quito and Puyo Ecuador. These were some of the most influential periods of my medical career as I decided that global health and infectious disease would become my specialties.

    I think the most challenging moment, the one that left the greatest impact on my medical experience there was during our stay in the jungle with a Shuar family. This large family, whom had very little in the way of material belongings, welcomed our group of five girls into their homes, cooked for us, and introduced us to the the plant life of the jungle as well as the common medicinal uses for them.

    Our final evening staying with the family, the father sat us down and spoke to us about his medical knowledge. This is a quote from my journal reflecting on that evening.

    "Then the father spoke to us about how all the information about the plants and their medicinal uses had been passed down from his father and he continued passing this information to his children. I asked him how long it takes to learn this information. He said that there were three things you needed to learn about the plants: identification by sight, how to prepare them, and the uses. All of this information, he said, would take a month to learn. He told us stories about when he used the plants for different medicinal purposes. It was then that I realized how important this moment was for both him and all of us. Thousands of years of knowledge, passed down solely through memory, was being shared with us. At this moment I wished there was more time to learn all the knowledge he held in his mind, with us, future medical practitioners."

    For me, it was not just about learning other ways of practicing medicine within a developing country, it also had to do with the culture, how they approach life in general and how they have an incredible amount of respect and appreciation for one another. Not only was this trip challenging for me as far as language is concerned, I was constantly challenged to keep my mind open to other ways of approaching medical care, and for this insight I am extremely grateful. It has impacted the way I approach my patients now during my clinical rotations in medical school, and hopefully will continue to impact my approach to medicine as a licensed physician.
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  3. Kentobari


    Dec 15, 2011
    Wonderful. I've been living in an indigenous village in the jungle for a year and a half as a Peace Corps volunteer so I know how you feel 100 times over. It's good to know that there are these types of electives out there. Have you considered any post-MD studies in medical anthropology? Some schools like chapel hill and harvard have MA programs for people who already already working as healthcare professionals.
  4. startoverat40

    startoverat40 R1 Family Medicine 5+ Year Member

    Feb 11, 2011
    how did you arrange for this rotation in Ecuador?

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