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When the faculty doctors of my university told me and my friend that we were chosen to go to an elective practice at Providence Portland Medical Center, I was so excited. I had no idea it was going to be such an great experience. I had never traveled by myself but I was relieved when I knew I was going with Ivan. This was not only about the exchange as a medical student but also the experience with a different culture, being on my own in a different country away from home and my family.
From day one my host families did their best to make me feel at home. They had planned different activities for me to enjoy my time in Portland from family and friends reunions and karaoke or movie nights, to hiking, going to the beach and just having dinner together.
The hospital was so different from Guatemala's national hospitals, but I found it easy to adapt because everyone was very kind and helpful to me. My rotation began on Infectious Diseases and I got to see a lot of different things from what I was used to back home and my second rotation was Internal Medicine where I review various diseases and drugs. On both rotations I had my own patients that I interviewed and examined everyday. I learned about the plan and assessment of different pathologies by discussing with the residents, fellow and attendings. They were always willing to answer my questions and I got to share with them about what things we see and what we do at the hospitals in Guatemala.
I enjoyed the conferences and classes that I attended to everyday because I learned a lot and they encouraged me to keep reading and studying. I had to learn from how to use the hospital's software for reading the patient's chart and writing my notes to how to use the train (got lost in the process) and my sense of orientation.
I'm really thankful for this opportunity and I'm glad to say that I became friends with some of the residents and my host families, I can't wait to visit Portland again when I'm a doctor. And now that I'm back I can share this experience and everything I learned with my classmates and other medical students.
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