I’ve been out of action for over five months now, I’m sure most of you thought I had abandoned Stethoscope and Hanzi, but the truth of the matter is, I have been going through a lot. I don’t know if I’m ready to blog about it, or if I’ll ever be.
Saying our goodbyes to Shunde
After living in the Shunde campus for two years, were we spent learning all of our basic medical science – we said our goodbyes, packed our bags and moved to another city, Guangzhou, where we will spend the remaining of our three years learning the clinical part of our program.
But before we left, we had our second annual Shunde Awards , remember those? This year it was bigger and better, I particularly loved how everyone in the participated because when I initially came up with them it was to celebrate everyone living in Shunde and not just the winners. Hoping the second years carry on the traditions and incorporate their own style to it.
We also had a Shunde fun day event, which was fantastic, everyone came out with lots of spirit and enthusiasm. We were divided into color coded teams, a mixture of first and second years. We participated in half marathons, egg and spoon, relay and other sorts of physical games. The sun was out and it was a beautiful day in Shunde.
The first years also threw us a farewell formal dinner party, with delicious food, music and heart-warming speeches. It really has felt like we were a family in Shunde, these past two years have shaped and prepared me for the following clinical years of my studies.
Summer break in rural Kwa Zulu Natal
Straight after relocating to my new campus, I packed my bags and took the next flight home. I was so eager to leave, the past academic year has been one of the most challenging year for me. Not necessarily the academics, but my well being was and is compromised. I wanted to get away, see my parents, family and friends.
After a few weeks home, eating all my favorite South African delicacies, from billtong, rusks to maas, I drove five hours North of Kwa Zulu Natal to a small town called Ingwavuma. I was placed there on a rural medicine elective. Mosvold hospital, a 246 district hospital which serves a population of about 110 000 people, mostly isi-Zulu speakers with a substantial number of Swati people due to its close proximity to the Swaziland boarder. The hospital lead by an amazing medical manager, if I say so myself, along with a team of ten doctors. The hospital has six wards namely, Tuberculosis (TB), Maternity, Isolation, Paediactrics, Male and Female medical wards. The hospital also runs a TB, HIV and Eye clinic along with a substantial Therapy department including an Audiologist, Speech, Occupational therapist and Physiotherapist. It also has a Dentist.
During my research I found out that most foreign-qualified medical students, upon returning to South Africa struggle to adapt and keep up with how Medicine is set up in South Africa. This is due to a lot of factors, one because of the dire health-care system in SA, lack or insufficient clinical exposure of Medicine in Southern Africa by foreign-qualified graduates, a huge burden of HIV, TB, Trauma and socio-economic associated conditions which aren’t necessarily common in other parts of the world. I choose a rural hospital because I felt it was there were I could experience all of the realities facing South Africa today, but now that I think about it, even in a tertiary city- based hospital I would have encountered the same pathologies because after all this is South Africa.
I spent four weeks of my holidays at Mosvold, and during that time I rotated in TB, Maternity, Paediatric and Male medical wards. I tailed along with the medical officer in charge of running the ward I was rotating in that week. One of the most astounding thing about my time there, was how prevalent HIV and TB was among the patients I saw. Our medical manager even said to us ”I can’t imagine medicine without HIV and TB”. I also spent my time at the Out-patient department (OPD), where I got to learn more about and see for myself the inequalities South Africa is still faced with, post 1994. A substantial number of the patients walked into the moderately resourced cubicle with chief complaints, at times, which were non- medical but social issues. In most cases there wasn’t anything we could do besides offer an ear and listen to their concerns, and if there was anything we could do – we’d refer the patient to the social worker. But with limited resources and NGO’s available, we would send the patients home without offering any valuable help. Working the OPD taught me valuable lessons as a clinician, about how your job description goes over and above being a health-care provider. And because of South Africa’s past, these are situations unique to my country and I wouldn’t have encountered them in China or if prevalent, but not to the same degree.
Third year of med school
School re-opens today for a new academic year and I have mixed feelings about being back in China and starting my last leg of medical education. It feels so close towards the end, and yet still so far. Add that with living in a new big metropolitan city into to the mix. But overall I’m hoping for a smooth year, and even if I’m tested with difficult situations that I rise above them.
The past semester I had a managed to find a ‘balance’ between my studies, eating healthy & exercise. I’m unfortunately still struggling to attend lectures as diligently as I’d like to, especially morning lectures.
This semester we’re taking Foundations in Surgery, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I’m super excited about this course, it’s a service course offered to us studying Western Medicine to gain a glimpse of what TCM is all about, it doesn’t really go into much depth, Basic techniques in Nursing, Medical Statistics, Clinical Diagnostics, Medical Imaging, Laboratory Diagnostics, Pharmacology and Medical Functional Experimentology which is a weird course if I say so myself, common in Chinese medical schools.
I’m so relieved about being close towards the end, and I hope that this academic year will be more kinder to me and filled with overall happy moments. Here’s to being half way through and being a step closer to making the dream a reality.