Studying Medicine Abroad

If I were able to find (aka explain to my mom via facebook message) where my 2nd grade year book was, I’d be able to open up to a page that was titled “what do I want to be when I grow up” and if you skimmed to my name, you’d see even in second grade I wanted to be a pediatrician. I guess I was a pretty wise 8 year old since almost 13 years later, I still have the same dream. Being abroad has effected this dream in ways I couldn’t even imagine, but it also presents a challenge being a second semester junior with applying to medical school right around the corner.

Being in the Medical Practice and Policy course at DIS has been quite possibly the most amazing medical experience of my life, and makes me even more excited to work towards my dream. I’ve been able to be involved in the health field in 3 different countries since coming to Denmark, and in ways that are unimaginable in the United States.  I have done my fair share of shadowing doctors, volunteering in a pediatric emergency department and even work at my university’s health center. Don’t get me wrong, these experiences have been amazing, but nothing is as incredible as the experiences I’ve had here.

In my class, Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach, alone I’ve FINALLY been able to learn about medicine and disease.  All my collegiate career has been learning the molecular, chemical and biological aspects of medicine, which again is necessary and interesting, but not as interesting as learning how to examine a patient, learn about typical diseases and have case studies. I even have a small book of all the symptoms a person can present and what they could have (how cool!). We got to go to a real living patient and take their history and perform basic exams, giving us the real life experience of a doctor.

In Denmark, we got to learn about OB/GYN by getting a hands on approach with simulators and fake patients and real life placentas.  I got to do a pap-smear and STI testing on a fake women (may not seem that exciting to most, but very exciting to us). And then we got to use one of the few laparoscopic simulators to perform tube tying, cyst removal and other laparoscopic techniques.

*Caution following picture could be gross to some*

Placentas and Blood during class
Practicing laparoscopic tube tying

In Germany, we got to visit a neonatal ward and see triplets who were born premature and were being cared for in the NICU. We also got to visit a cardiovascular center specializing in surgery.  Here we got to learn about stem cells, but more interestingly we got to watch a stint being put into a man with some clots in his leg, something that made standing for an hour in one spot worth it.

In Poland, (best for last), I got to see a real life natural delivery.  After watching plenty of pregnant women get their stats and explanation of some of the tools used in delivery, there was a lot of commotion and we got to see a women give birth to a healthy baby. Again, one of the most exciting moments in my life.

Walking (in our lovely blue scrubs) to the OBGYN

I have truly had experiences that I would never have gotten in the USA and I look forward to each class to learn about all these diseases and what life is like being a doctor. On the downside, studying for the MCAT with the excitements of a foreign country can be hard, and getting in contact with your home university regarding your future and classes for next semester can be difficult with time differences and lack of wifi.But, I wouldn’t change the medical experience I am gaining abroad for anything.

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