One Month In and I Am Feeling Grateful

One month in, and I am feeling grateful. This has absolutely been such an incredible experience. Zimbabwe is a wonderful place to learn, to teach, and to interact with an incredible people and their country.

I am so happy with how everything has gone, from the dynamics of our group to the incredible pathology on the medical floors. Richard, Stefan and I have had a refreshingly easy time of coming together as a group and I’m so grateful for their friendship and co-experience. We find ourselves happy to hang out on both a personal level as well as on a more academic level in the hospital. Joe Cleary joined the team this weekend and jumped right in, totally fitting in and endearing himself as “one of the gang”.

I cannot go on enough about the amazing teaching and wide breath of medical exposure afforded at this medical site. In the last 24 hours we saw a new ALS diagnosis, an emergent pericardiocentesis to relieve a HIV/TB patient with tamponade, while the next stretcher over urgent care was provided to a 14-year-old boy with idiopathic toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Stefan Wheat '18, Stephen Winter MD, Ruth Musselman MD, Richard Mendez '18
Stefan Wheat ’18, Stephen Winter MD, Ruth Musselman MD, Richard Mendez ’18

Last week I was blown away by the medical knowledge a registrar exhibited in recognizing a patient with Tuberous Sclerosis. It was a fascinating case of a 21-year-old male presenting with symptoms of decompensated cardiomyopathy with what appeared to be cutaneous symptoms of tuberous sclerosis. The case was presented on grand rounds and a random registrar was asked to do a physical exam. He immediately noted skin plaques with nodules and nail bed changes making the very rare tuberous sclerosis a top differential. Pretty impressive considering no one in the room had ever seen it before. He went on to provide the top five organs typically involved with the primary presenting findings in each… I was speechless.

The level of knowledge exhibited by many of the registrars here is unprecedented and inspiring. I continue to learn more everyday. I have thoroughly enjoyed integrating into the medical teams. It has been rewarding to work as a peer on rounds offering differentials and perspectives that may not be readily available. As always, diversity strengthens and broadens in ways that isn’t possible without new ideas and experience.

I had a great talk today with Dr. Cleary about the excitement I feel in bringing back a more confident set of physical exam skills that we all have had the opportunity to use here. I am envisioning bedside rounds with my team in Norwalk and will hope to emulate some of what I have learned from the professors here as well as the professors back at home.

I am literally planning the next trip back and I still have two weeks to go!


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