I chose participate in CFHI’s Maternal and Child Health Program in India because it allows me to experience the challenges expecting mothers face in the developing world. On top of that, I have always been fascinated by the vibrant and colorful culture of India. Hence, this program is the perfect fit for me!
Sharon is an aspiring obstetrician/gynecologist who is passionate about maternal and child health. She graduated college with a degree in Biology and is currently working in the research sector in Boston, Massachusetts.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The website of Child Family Health International (CFHI) has very clear instructions on the entire application process and how to proceed after being accepted into the program. The staff at CFHI were very helpful and knowledgeable. They provided me with all the information needed (contacts both locally and abroad, reading material on the traditions and culture of India, as well as the healthcare system, options for travel insurance and the outline of the program and accommodation details). I only had to search and purchase my flight ticket, apply for my traveling visa and get necessary vaccinations.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
There is free time during the weekends, so it would be great to research on the places/ attractions that you would like to visit beforehand so you are able to make full use of your time in India. Most importantly, go and experience with an open mindset! You are abroad with two identities - a tourist and a student.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
We would start our day with breakfast (traditional Indian food) at the medical director's house and move on with shadowing rotations at different pediatric and obstetric hospitals and small rural clinics in and around Pune, under the supervision of local preceptors. We attended optional yoga classes once every week before breakfast. During the weekends, we would explore around the nearby cities in Maharashtra State to learn more about the history and culture of India. Also, jamming to Bollywood music is part of our daily routine when we were on the road.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was a little worried about not being able to adapt the living conditions and the issue of obtaining clean drinking water. However, the accommodation was fine and we have easy access to clean drinking water. I realized that sometimes worrying does not help to solve the problem. The best thing that you can do is to stay positive, accept whatever comes your way and you will be surprised that you can adapt and be just as fine! Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is the way to allow yourself to grow and learn from others!