Spoiled. That’s the only way to describe how I feel heading back to the states. Back home if you need a lab, you can order it and expect it back soon. If you have a question, you can call a specialist who probably wrote a book on the subject. And if you have no clue what’s going on with a patient, you can always get a scan. Any scan you can think of.
I feel that I had the opportunity to practice medicine the way my 6-year-old-self imagined it while in Guyana and I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience.
I believe that patients receive a similar level of care and attention here in Guyana than they do back at home with 1/10 the resources. Yes, there isn’t a CT or MRI for everyone and some days all the machines in the lab don’t work, but was it really that long ago where that wasn’t the norm? I’ve heard many people say that physical diagnosis is a dying art and they may be right. But that’s not the case in Guyana. When you don’t have the safety net of there always being another expensive test to run, your practice habits change quick. When there’s only 8 vents in the entire hospital that decision to intubate becomes a little less obvious. I know my physical diagnosis skills have been honed here and that the experience has made me a better clinician.
I have nothing but respect for the doctors that I’ve worked with. I was told that taxi drivers often make more than the doctors at the public hospital do. I’ve heard that many leave the country after training to find better compensation or move into the private hospital system. Those that don’t have made a conscious decision to serve their fellow Guyanese over prestige, ease, or monetary reward rather. I can only hope that their good has somehow rubbed off on me. Perhaps I too can do my small part and pay back all that I have received from my time here by coming back to work and teach and serve.