Monday, May 11, 2015

Personal Perspective on a Medical Mission

I'm not a doctor, a nurse, or any sort of medical professional. Yet, I spent two weeks in full surgical scrubs in a Vietnam hospital, managing patient data, assisting in the operating room, and otherwise doing what's needed on a medical mission with the International Extremity Project. It's physically and emotionally exhausting, the heat and humidity are powerful, and I enjoy every minute of it. 

Until my first IEP mission two years ago, my medical expertise was typically that of a patient -- or a parent's mom. Truth be told, one of the circumstances that got me there is the fact that I'm a klutz. I started working on the IEP website after seeing a photo on my podiatrist's wall. Then in 2012, the team invited me to join a mission trip 
to Vietnam's Mekong Delta to work at Can Tho Central General Hospital.

It's hard to explain the experience because there are so many dimensions to being there. As soon as we landed in Ho Chi Minh City this time, everything felt familiar to me, only better. (Probably because the flights were much smoother and I didn't spend my first several hours in Vietnam throwing up...)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Inspiration for a Future Doctor

Mai, Melissa, and Madison outside the operating room in Can Tho.
Melissa Lipari, who is preparing to attend medical school, joined the IEP team to learn more about a career in medicine. It turns out she's very comfortable in surgical scrubs.

This was my first trip with IEP on their mission to Vietnam. It was also my first excursion to a developing nation. The experience has changed my perspective on life in so many ways.

As an aspiring Orthopedist, I went on this medical mission to confirm my fascination with medicine and my devotion to becoming a doctor. I also wanted to help this amazing organization by raising money for a good cause and contributing a helping hand in the hospital.

The trip was an emotional roller-coaster. The first two days of patient screening were the most emotionally taxing. Tears were shed by both the IEP team and the patients. It was disheartening to look at a full line of people desperately hoping to qualify for surgery and know that we wouldn’t be able to help them all.