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Lessons I learned studying abroad in Malawi

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Studying abroad has been a profound part of both my personal and academic careers for the past eight years. I have been profoundly blessed with the places I have been able to travel to, including Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and most recently, Malawi, Africa. Every trip has taught me how to be more culturally competent, appreciate different ways of doing things, and become a better medical professional. Here are five lessons I learned during my six weeks at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Africa:

Lessons I have learned:

  1. In the Malawian medical system, nearly all medical knowledge is discussed as it would be in the United States. Still, after the conversation is complete, the physician would say, “but, here…” because the resources are so strained that they need to approach patient care differently.
  2. The medical equipment is very much outdated; however, it is important to keep in mind that it does the same job differently. Therefore, things may take longer, but they will eventually be accomplished.
  3. As much as we are there to learn from the Malawians, they are also learning from us. Medicine is a collaborative sport everywhere.
  4. Malawian physicians see so many extremely ill patients and those with advanced pathology that we would rarely to never see in the United States. This lowers the physicians’ threshold for alert and concern, but to us, it seems very alarming.
  5. A physical exam is very important and very thorough in Malawi. Without the advanced technology and easy availability of imaging, your hands and eyes need to be your best tools. In emergency rooms in the United States, just by walking through the door, you earn an image of some kind.

To anyone contemplating studying abroad, no matter what part of the world, please do it! You will not regret the experience, and you will be a better person because of it! Golden Key helps support students who are interested in studying abroad through their many scholarships. Apply and watch your world change!

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