By Nadiya Yerich, junior EC Scholar
Imagine this: you’re in the ER of one of the best hospitals in Nepal, watching physicians attempt to care for a woman who was just attacked by a rhinoceros. She has a gaping hole in her chest and lacerations all over her body, particularly her arms and legs. The saline they hooked up to her flows out of every laceration on her body since they only stapled her wounds together. She does not have anesthesia, because she does not have family nearby to buy it for her. Medical and nursing students, and even random bystanders, are taking pictures of her. Within hours, she passes away due to lack of proper medical care. She was never sent to the OR, and she never received a blood transfusion. Sadly, this is not a unique case in Nepal. Throughout my month-long medical internship in Nepal through Projects Abroad, I got to see the effects of living in a third world country manifest in hundreds of different cases at the Chitwan Medical College.
I had the opportunity to shadow physicians and nurses in the emergency department, operating theatre, orthopedic trauma ward, ICU, surgical ward, the ear nose throat (ENT) ward, tropical medicine ward, and even dentistry! The most interesting cases I saw included the rhino attack, a live birth, multiple cholecystectomies, an enormous bronchogenic carcinoma, and a woman who had burned a majority of her body with a kerosene lamp.
However, observing surgeries and medical procedures was not the only thing I did in Nepal. I also had the chance to go to the Human Services Center, which is practically a homeless shelter for the “untouchables” of the society. We got to play with the residents and do arts and crafts with them. On the weekends, I traveled to Chitwan National Park and the city of Pokhara with other Projects Abroad volunteers. The highlights were going on a 4-hour safari trek, riding an elephant through the jungle while watching for wildlife, sitting on an elephant while it bathed itself in a river, watching lakeside sunsets, going paragliding, and sipping on the biggest and most incredible oreo milkshakes this earth has to offer!
What I really loved about this trip is that it allowed me to what I am studying at ECU – public health and religion. I was able to organize and lead a public health session on the importance of hand hygiene, and coughing/sneezing into your elbow to fourth graders at a local school. I also got to see temples like the Monkey Temple in person, which I had just seen in my Buddhism textbook in the spring!
This trip would not have been able to happen without the help of Dr. Todd Fraley and Ms. Whitney Morris at the International House who worked with me for almost half a year to figure out the logistics! I am also incredibly grateful for the study abroad scholarship I received from the foundation I owe my college education to: The Harold H. Bate Foundation.
I am very open to talking with anyone who would like to do something similar to this medical internship, or travel in general! Namaste.