I had the opportunity to participate in an abroad elective during medical school. I always get questions about my experiences and whether I thought it was worth the time. I thought I would write this post to assist others struggling with this question.
First, I thought it was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I chose to travel to Nairobi, Kenya for an infectious disease elective. I thought it was a good opportunity to get some traveling in, truly help some very underserved communities of Kenya, and train under an experienced infectious disease physician. I have to say it was a truly humbling experience to work in the most rural environments where patients travel miles on foot for health care, share hospital beds, bring their own food/ linen, all in some of the worst environments imaginable. I think back to those moments many times when I look at the privileged healthcare our society receives, which many believe still needs improvement. It helps to add perspective in many situations.
I knew after that experience I would return to Kenya once fully trained as a physician to help those who truly have difficult access to care and need physicians the most. For all those who are interested, some very popular programs I have been researching include the Flying Doctors Program and Doctors Without Borders. I believe these are outstanding international programs that know the meaning of giving back.