The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences here. For more information, visit our program page.    

“I don’t have a mood to do anything”

A young woman, Hagar, sat next to her husband in clinic at Siloam Health. They were Egyptian immigrants who had recently moved to the USA.

I interviewed her through the help of an Arabic interpreter over the phone. While many times Siloam has in-person interpreters, sometimes the volume is high and we need to use interpreters by phone.

Newcomers to the USA face many difficulties. While we often focus on the financial difficulties that are associated with come with moving to a new country, there are others.

Map of the world

As the initial generations adjust to life in the USA, they often are struck with the shock of being immersed in a new culture.

“I have to have a prescription to get medication from the pharmacy?”

One 20-year-old refugee recently exclaimed, “There are so many laws in this country!”

Newcomers might remember with nostalgia their way of life in their old country. One patient recently said that when he traveled through the mountains in East Tennessee, he flashes back to memories of his homeland with a similar landscape.

They also are challenged to maintain their relationship with their children, who might adapt to the American culture more rapidly than they.

One patient at Siloam Health tearfully shared how difficult it was for her to relate to her child with autism, since she only spoke Spanish and he was in an English-speaking school.

Siloam Health is a refuge of healing for these stressed individuals.

During Hagar’s appointment, she received the highest level of primary care despite the barriers that might have separated us.

It was determined that she had missed several doses of her SSRI, and it was recommended that she continue her therapy without ceasing when her symptoms improved.

Healthcare in the USA should address the mental health needs of our patients! Sometimes these are the most significant to the patient.