This summer, as part of the Rustic Pathways Medical Service Certification Program, I traveled to Thailand where I earned my certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. While there, I experienced Thai culture firsthand, learned how healthcare is administered in rural areas, and helped diagnose and treat easily preventable diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and bacterial infections. I chose this particular program because of my interest in medicine and my desire to help other people. Although medical treatment has improved in Thailand, availability of high-quality care, particularly for elderly patients, could still be improved. After researching many programs, I felt that this experience would fulfill all of the criteria I was looking for in a medical and leadership roll. Not only did this experience enhance my skills and knowledge about medicine, but I was also able to apply these skills and work hands-on with people that needed my help.
As part of this program, I was able to use the skills I learned in the classroom to help treat people in need of medical assistance. One memorable occasion was when we went to an orphanage and worked with the children. Although there was a language barrier, there was still a strong connection with the children. At the orphanage we measured their pulse and respirations while sitting down and resting as well as after running around. It was a very special occasion because I could feel how excited the kids were that we were there and took an interest in them. Another rewarding experience I took part in, was testing the salt in peoples’ homes to ensure that it contained iodine. One morning, as a group we walked through a village and visited approximately one hundred homes where we asked for samples of their table salt. After we collected the samples, we went back to our base house and tested the salt to see if it was iodized. If a sample did not contain iodine we supplied the family with new iodized salt. Salt must contain iodine, because that is the mineral that allows your thyroid gland to produce two important hormones that prevent thyroid disease, which causes symptoms such as weight gain, feeling tired and depression. Taking part in this experience, truly made me feel like I was making a direct difference in these family’s lives.
Another momentous occasion was when we went to a hospital and worked directly with elderly people. We measured their height and weight, checked their blood pressure, tested their blood type and blood sugar, and gave them free food. If any of their measurements were abnormal, we gave them medicine necessary to treat the problem. This was truly a memorable moment for me because it was moving to see how grateful they were that we were volunteering to help them.
In summary, this program was an amazing experience and something that I will remember forever. I would highly recommend this program for students who are interested in a medical and leadership program that requires patience and love for people. This was a truly rewarding experience.