Volunteer Review: Thomas H., Medicine in Argentina
Hola, my name is Thomas H. and I’m a 3rd year university student from Canada with aspirations of studying medicine. I decided to travel to Cordoba as I wanted an opportunity to experience the medical field all the while gaining exposure to a new language, culture, and way of life. My month in Argentina gave me all of these things and more.
When I first arrived I was quite nervous as this was my first time travelling and I was in a country where I knew little of the language. For 3 weeks I worked at Sanatorio Sierras Chicas in Unquillo alongside Dr. Mulki, a kind and brilliant man. I experienced all parts of this small hospital, including the Intensive Care Unit, the Traumatology Ward, the X-Ray Ward, the medical lab, and the patient clinic.
After my first week, I became more familiar with the language and because of that was able to take on more responsibility. Dr. Mulki taught me how to take patient’s blood pressure and then gave me a chance to do it for some of his patients. I got to know some of the patients in the Intensive Care Unit and the Traumatology Ward, and it always put a smile on their face when I, the “Flaco de Canada”, came to visit them. The important thing I learned from these 3 weeks was to break out of my shell; to not be shy because if you want to do something or know something you have to put yourself out there and ask!
After my second week of work, it was a long weekend and I used this as an opportunity to travel to Puerto Igazsu to see the renowned Igazsu Falls which border Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. The 22 hour bus ride to get there is worth every minute when you get to the park and see those waterfalls. They are the most incredible instance of nature I have ever seen and the image of the water on that beautiful August day will be forever etched into my memory. The hostel I stayed in with 3 other volunteers (from all over the world) was so much fun and this entire weekend was one of the most memorable of my life.
I returned my third week to continue working at Sierras Chicas in the mornings, while starting at Instituto de Maternidad in the afternoons with Dr. Mercado, a generous man with a great sense of humor. At the Maternity Hospital, I sat beside Dr. Mercado as he conducted his ultrasound examinations of pregnant women. He took the time to explain and help me understand the details associated with each patient and from this I was able to learn so much about radiology and pregnancy.
My last week, I worked at Hospital Pediatrico in the mornings and continued at the Maternity Hospital in the afternoons. I worked in the outpatient clinic with various doctors, watching as they examined their child patients. It was amazing to see how these doctors interacted with the children; they could always make the kids smile, no matter how they came in feeling. I really enjoyed this experience as all the doctors were really friendly to me and were always happy to answer any questions I had.
When I was not in the hospitals, I immersed myself in the culture of Argentina. Cordoba is an adventure waiting to happen if one embraces the local traditions: speaking Spanish, eating a very late supper, taking part in a barbeque, dancing the night away, going out until the sun rises, drinking matte anywhere and anytime, having a coffee with friends, eating lomos, bargaining at the local markets, and navigating the bus system. Add to that, the incredibly friendly and fun people of Argentina and you have an experience you will get nowhere else in the world.
My experience in Cordoba was truly life-changing and I have taken from it many friends and memories that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It has given me a chance to help people, learn about the medical field, explore a new culture and language, and discover new things about myself. As a result, I see my life and the world in a totally different light.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.