March, 2015: Kuang-Ning “Annie” Huang, M.D. ‘14
This week is my last in Uganda.
In the past five weeks, I have spent time on labor and delivery, pediatrics, adult medicine and palliative care — unintentionally rotating through the life cycle here at Mulago. We even spent a morning at the city mortuary observing autopsies. The life cycle here is not gentle, at any stage. I can only imagine how working day in and day out (as so many staff do) at this hospital must harden the soul. Yet, my guess is that this is not what most of the staff think about on a daily basis – this is the baseline and there is no time to dwell.
Each time I get to travel and work, I feel very lucky. Health is one of those rare universal languages that gives you access into another person’s life, and offers a reflection of local social, environmental, political and economic circumstances in unfamiliar cultures. Starting with health, there is an opportunity to influence these other factors with the work we do. It is all connected–and that’s a pretty incredible thought.
Five weeks is a very limited amount of time to effect much change, but it’s a valuable amount of time to absorb and learn, both to reinforce the things I do know, and realize the vast amount of medicine I have yet to be exposed to. The clinical exposure has been amazing, and more than anything else, I think my time here has helped me to contextualize and think further about the career I’d like to have once I am finished with residency. Contemplating a career in global health comes with many caveats – much like the rules in medicine, the first law to abide by is “do no harm,” and to achieve this is not always clear cut.
Now that I am back in Vermont, I have much to think about and plan for – all coming from a place of excitement! These five weeks have a very solid foothold in propelling this process, and for that I am very grateful.