This message comes to you from a coffee shop in the middle of town. The Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania is known for having some of the best coffee in East Africa, so I came to explore that for myself. Anyways, as I head in to my third week, I have realized that my internship is nearly half-way over 🙁 However, I have had a great time here thus far!
What have you been up to?
Living at KCMC for the past 2 and a half weeks has been eye-opening, and I know that I have only just begun learning about the logistics of the medical field here in Tanzania. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I work with the department of anesthesia at the hospital to improve efficiency in any way possible. I have been entering data for the past couple weeks, forming a database containing quantity of anesthetic drugs used and ordered each day over the past few years. Doing this assists the department in switching over from physical bookkeeping to a computerized database, but it also allows me to understand certain trends; for example, I have noticed the hospital switching out certain drugs for others in recent years. Analyzing daily orders has allowed me to find discrepancies in reported costs, so when I am finished entering this data I can look for ways to maintain price consistency and maximize the allocated budget for the department.
What have you learned thus far?
The skills I have gained from this experience thus far include expenditure analysis, along with knowledge of different anesthetics’ function and purpose. Data entry and interpretation is not the only thing I have done while here, however. I have also had the opportunity to shadow physicians, talk with patients, and even observe surgeries. The insight this clinical exposure has given me is enlightening. The physicians are very intelligent, and truly care about their patients: at morning rounds, this attitude is highly evident in their attention to detail and response to questions from the attending physician. I have learned the importance of the charisma and dedication of the doctors working here. It is easy to be complacent with the way things run in the hospital, yet I have found many of physicians staying in the hospital many hours after their shifts have ended or coming in on their days off. This is because they recognize that hard work pays off — they know that patients depend on their work, and their devotion to improving health care here.
Observing surgeries, seeing the differences between procedures in the U.S. and Tanzania, and talking with patients have all reaffirmed my desire to become a surgeon. The trust that a patient instills in the surgeon is incredible, and the fact that a physician is able to help improve a person’s quality of life is inspiring. As always, I have learned so much thus far — and I am excited to continue sharing my experiences and realizations with you as my journey continues!