The Intern Experience: Emily W.
Each summer, medical students from all over the United States decide to spend a week using their new medical knowledge to help clinics in rural areas of Chacraseca, Nicaragua. There are many medical teams that partner with JustHope, bringing physicians and medical students from different medical schools and health care supplies to the underserved people of Chacraseca who would otherwise struggle to access medical care.
I am a sophomore undergraduate student studying pre-health and I have been shadowing health professionals in different medical fields. This summer, I was able to participate with several of JustHope's medical teams, working in clinics that were unlike any health care setting I have ever witnessed in the US. Each morning we travelled to a different sector of Chacraseca to set up a clinic in a school or community member's home. As we bumped along dirt roads meant for ox-carts not vans, giant volcanos smoked in the distance, arriving to find that our patients had already begun to line up for health care that was so rarely available to them. We set up a few tables for the doctors, figured out the most efficient system of doing intake for every patient, and hung our pharmacy station from a tree. Medical students were paired up with doctors or stationed at intake or pharmacy and the first patients were called. There was no preparing for the cases we would see or assurance that we would be able to treat everyone, but the group was ready to take on whatever came our way. The medical teams worked long days in hectic clinics, but both the patients and group members always left much happier than when they arrived.
JustHope has had a partnership in Chacraseca for 10 years and many of the community members have been involved with the partnership since the beginning. On our last day, our clinic was set up on the home of one of the sector leaders that had been active in JustHope’s work for many years. Before we left, he expressed his gratitude to all of us, telling us we were his angels sent from God and were always welcome in Chacraseca with open arms. This was very impactful on the entire medical team, especially coming from such an involved community leader, because he made it clear how important the continuous work of JustHope has been for the community. During reflections that night, students talked about how his words were one of the most powerful parts of their experiences in Nicaragua.
Throughout the week, medical groups develop bonds of mutual respect and appreciation with the people of Chacraseca and benefit just as much from this opportunity and the community as their patients do from the medical care. One of the most amazing parts of this trip for me was hearing the medical students talk about how the work in Chacraseca proved to them that their hard work at school was worth it. Because of this amazing experience, I am now even more motivated to further my education in medicine. I hope to use my new medical knowledge to return to this community for years to come.
- Emily W., JustHope intern
- Emily W., JustHope intern