When I was a medical student in 2007 I traveled to Chad a landlocked nation in the heart of Africa. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world; a place of great need and suffering. In the city of Bere I worked on a team with the hospital’s head physician there for 5 weeks during the summer after my first year of medical school.
It was inspirational to see the positive attitude and spirit of the people there, despite having so little and enduring so much. A young boy I met had been hospitalized for weeks for a severe leg infection. His wound was very deep and had to be cleaned on a regular basis. He would cry during each cleaning, but afterwards we’d talk and play games. It’s common for people to get depressed staying so long in the hospital, but we found ways to keep him smiling. In his case, I found we were able to provide care and support going beyond just the medical treatments. His condition improved and he was eventually able to go home. I’m very grateful for this experience and for many others that helped shape my approach to patient care.