My dedication to study medicine and become a doctor did not really start until I was In Year 11, sitting in my school hall, waiting for a Year 13 Prefect to tell us about her summer work experience. As she showed us pictures of her medical work experience with Gap Medics in Tanzania and pictures of her playing around with the kids in the orphanage, I was inspired. I told myself I had to go and do this this summer. I wanted to travel by myself and explore a different culture. Therefore, I went on Gap Medics and my two options were Tanzania or Poland since they were the only under 18 programs during 2015.
Since it was my first time to travel alone, I decided to go to Poland in 2015, as I have been to many European countries in the past, and promised to myself if I enjoyed my experience I would go to Tanzania. In Poland, I was shadowing doctors in the Children Memorial Hospital, and I was able to see open heart surgeries on infants and communicate with the patients around my age. Although I didn't speak Polish, I made a very close friend there in the hospital and I still speak with him till now. The beauty of visiting different countries is, before you know it, you start learning a few polish, eating their traditional food and knowing more about their history. This is what interested me in Tanzania too! Learning about a different lifestyle you are not adapted to, is the reason why I love traveling and meeting local people. The Gap Medics experience in Poland made me very interested in pediatrics. I was in the Cardiology Department where I had one of the most respectful mentor/surgeon. During every operation, he would give me a detailed explanation of each of the steps he has taken, so I could understand the procedure. My mentor was very enthusiastic and friendly that he wanted to show me the Heart Valve Bank the hospital had which was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
My experience was truly unforgettable that I had to go to Tanzania the next summer. This allowed me to compare between the two experiences. In Tanzania, I had the chance to join the midwifery placement, learn more about the importance breastfeeding and how to stitch an episeotomy on a sponge. My two mentors prepared me for the theory version of a C-section before we had the opportunity to observer one, therefore, I could understand what was going on during the C-section. Midwifery is a field I never really thought I would be interested in, but I loved my time there. Additionally, In Tanzania, I managed to observe a gastrectomy, and the difference between the operating theatre in Poland and Tanzania was huge. Some of the differences were the shortage in the number of medical staff and the limited resources. This allows you to do some thinking on shouldn't every person around the world receive the same quality of healthcare. Why do some countries have a good health care and others don't? Why should the health of a person be seriously affected just because the hospital cannot offer the right treatment? These questions make you more of a global citizen; a person who will selflessly care for others when they become a doctor and who is ready to put their patient's life their number one priority. This enhances your confidence and allows you to have a bigger perspective of the world, turning you from a teenager to a young adult. Gap Medics helped me to know what I am getting myself into and made me more ready than ever for the journey ahead of me. Gap Medics has not only interested me in medicine but gave me the right skills and experience which will make me a better doctor in the future.