This week, I’m in London to mark an important milestone. Five years ago, leaders from all over the world came together to insist on making family planning a global priority. Together, we made a promise to enable 120 million more women and girls to use modern contraceptives by 2020 with the goal of achieving universal access to contraceptives for everyone, everywhere.
There are about 214 million women around the world who want to avoid pregnancy but don’t have access to contraception, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Addressing this unmet need is part of the inspiration for the theme of this year's World Population Day on Tuesday: "family planning."
My field experience gave me the opportunity to visualize and understand concepts that had been discussed in class. I was able to perform evaluations, data analysis, and community assessments based on the skills I have gained from my prior coursework. As a doctoral student, leadership is at the core of our curriculum, and we had often discussed different leadership styles and work cultures, this field experience gave me a better perception of just how varied and important this aspect of leadership is to increase work efficiency.
I had no idea what I was getting into. Before I left for Guyana, I knew that our residency was somehow connected to some hospital in Guyana and that many people in our department go there to help out. I wanted to go and help out too. In my mind, that was it. We go there to help. I had no idea what an amazing investment had been made in the people there or how integral Vanderbilt’s involvement was to the working of the Emergency Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital.
As a surgery resident, we encounter patients from many walks of life; a common language and time give us an opportunity to build a bridge, to perhaps not stand in each other's shoes but strive for that, to connect. One of the things that drew me to this career path was not simply the surgery, but the journey of taking a patient pre-op, through their operation, and caring for them as they recover. That journey is built on language, the explanation of their disease, of the operation, of the risks of that operation, and the challenges we face together after their operation. How to overcome that distance here has been a hurdle that I would say I have still not successfully cleared.
“Where’s your team?” the man asked. He was a surprising figure to see on this gray rainy day in Kijabe, standing about my height casually just off the middle of the road, looking onwards at the soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it, football game a few yards away. He was dressed well to be out in such weather, a formal black suit, collared shirt and tie, eyes lighting up as the orange and yellow teams chased the football from one side of the field to another amidst the big juicy rain pellets.
Most people would argue that the bare necessities include water, food, and shelter. Everything else is a bonus (well except sleep - I would argue sleep is essential too and hot water also, but I digress). Nonetheless, comparing the resources of the AIC Hospital in Kijabe to my home institution (Vanderbilt Medical Center) would be grossly unfair.

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