“Anxious to bring both the year and New Year’s Day into line with the West, Peter decreed that the next new year would begin on January 1 and that the coming year would be numbered 1700… But to blunt the argument of those who said that God could not have made the earth in the depth of winter, Peter invited them “to view the map of the globe and gave them to understand that Russia was not all the world and that what was winter with them was, at the same time, always summer in those places beyond the equator.”
-Robert K. Massie, Peter the Great: His Life and World
As a graduate of Kazan State Medical University, I am proud that my Alma Mater was among the first Russian institutions to send graduates and residents to medical facilities in other countries. Global health is one of the most powerful tools with which professional horizons can be widened. It reminds us why we chose medicine in the first place.
As I walked through Norwalk Hospital for the first time, I was astonished by the picturesque architecture and landscaping. With each new patient admission, we passed by the hospital’s elegant panoramic windows with views of young flowering trees outside on the way to the Emergency Department. These observations of nature, however short-lived, balanced my routine, in turn helping me connect more deeply with patients, take more thorough histories, perform better physical exams, and greater understand the illnesses. Just a mere glance outside the window gave me the gift of awareness beyond the hospital rooms.
Suddenly I was not at the bedside of a patient with diabetic ketoacidosis, critically low hemoglobin, or severe sports trauma, but of a human with dreams, endeavors, accomplishments, and a full life that cannot not be directly seen. Perhaps the patient in Room 5 had helped build a hospital, and the patient in Room 12 had helped grow beautiful community gardens. These thoughts lead me to the realization that by caring for a patient, I am serving the entire community- a realization that helps me be a better physician.
Some of the strongest clinicians and educators with whom I have had the honor to work led our teams at Norwalk Hospital. This training gave me meaningful opportunities to learn new things. One of the residents gave a thought provoking presentation that sparked discussion among several doctors, one of whom was a visiting patient’s relative. This exchange of information among health care providers, patients, and relatives creates a stronger support system for patients and their families. It is a dialogue we need to incorporate into Kazan State Medical University, for the sake of those in need.
Unfortunately, doctors who practice in rural Russia have a lower chance of incorporating modern medical technologies into their respective practices. Two incredibly useful technologies at Norwalk Hospital included an electronic medical record system, which helped improve connectivity throughout the hospital, and a video interpretation service which helped break down language barriers between us and our non-English-speaking patients.
At Norwalk Hospital, I felt like I was part of a progressive and supportive community full of inspiring role models. I was able to take part in the professional, cultural, and social landscape of the hospital and connect with people from around the globe. Such wealth of medical and cultural experiences provoked new ideas that I hope to realize through hard work on the wards and dedicated global health advocacy.