July 2nd, 2015
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others".
No words ring truer than that after my first week of clinics in Ghana. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in medicine. When I was little, I would buy science books and trace pictures of the human heart for fun. In high school, AP biology and anatomy were the best classes I ever took. And in college, I discovered my passion for promoting health.
Our clinics in Ghana consisted of tables set up in order of: check-in and BMI, blood pressure, glucose and hemoglobin levels, lipid levels, and then consults with Dr. Anderson over results. Our group rotated who worked at which table, but I would usually end up at the lipid station or glucose and hemoglobin stations.
I loved seeing the varieties of people throughout our clinics based on where our clinics were set up. On Monday, our clinics were set up in Suhum, Ghana where we served over 150 people. Our second clinic was set up in Amanokrom, Ghana where we served over 170 people. These first two days were busy and hectic- but in the end I knew I had made a difference in people's lives. There was such a variety of people: people ages from 3-90, underweight to obese, sick to healthy.
Our third and fourth day of clinics were set up in Madina, Ghana at a TV station called AngelTV. Although we saw about 80 people each day, it was much less hectic and overcrowded- I kept reminding myself I was still making a difference.
One of the most interesting parts of these clinics was experiencing the difference between these two different types of communities throughout the week. The first two days of clinics were in very impoverished and underserved areas- whereas the last two days were in a more middle/upper class area. In Suhum and Amanokrom, people were commonly dressed in cloth draped on their bodies with dirty sandals. In Madina, most of the patients were dressed in business attire or expensive fabrics- and we even saw a famous actress, rapper, and beauty pageant contestant. I also noticed that in the middle/upper class community, more of the patients had healthier BMI's and less reason to test for lipid levels.
At first, our group was disappointed in the second type of community we worked in because we felt like we weren't making a difference because many of the middle class people (we assumed) had easier access to healthcare than the impoverished areas. But as I've sat contemplating this past week and the health promotion that I've been able to be a part of with this amazing team of people- I know that even if only one life was changed, then it was worth it.
Our service-learning study abroad in Ghana has only set my heart on fire for health promotion and medical work even more. This trip has affirmed that this is my passion- and I'm only the second week in. I've always had a heart to serve people, so thank you UGA for providing me with this study abroad that brings me closer to my passion in life.
I recently ran across a quote I admired and fully believed in, so I will end with it.
"The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world". - Dr. Paul Farmer
How the end of our time at Ridge and this program helped me narrow my focus
Finding the light in situations where the resources are limited.
A story about how my first OR experience changed the trajectory of my future
How I was able to see myself in the hospital setting.
How coming all the way to Ghana showed me where my passion is