Wednesday, August 31, 2011

¡Viva Peru!: My Summer Research Experience- Ashley Elsensohn

I spent this summer in Peru, dodging taxis in Lima, hiking the Andes Mountains, and finding out what the reality of healthcare is for people in this beautiful, developing country. It was an incredible experience, and an opportunity to work with amazing doctors and students from a different part of the world. Technically, I did research in neonatal infection, asphyxia, and congenital birth defects. Some of my travel highlights include going to Machu Picchu, hiking to a glacier lake in Huaraz, watching the sunset at a beach in Juanchaco, and eating quite a lot of tres leches cake (to which I think I developed a slight addiction). This is perhaps not what one thinks about when envisioning a typical summer medical research project. I think that’s what I loved so much about it. In addition to research (which contrary to popular belief and facebook pictures, I did actually spend quite some time doing), I was able to go to a spina bifida clinic, where I worked with a ten year old Peruvian boy. Our group also visited a public health project that had been started in a Lima ghetto, where they had put in running water for those who were living up on the hillside. I also got to work with Peruvian med students on their project involving a community cervical cancer follow-up. So I was able to see and experience a lot, but the greatest part of my summer was really just being able to see how the medical system worked, and discovering how I could improve it. It’s a daily challenge figuring out how to make things better in any resource limited setting, whether it be at home or abroad. I was uplifted to discover that progress is completely possibly, however. I believe that this is the challenge and the reward of doing global health. Spending time in Peru allowed meto see global health at work, and gave me a real perspective and appreciation for the realities and rewards of healthcare in another country. It was an eye-opening summer, and an experience that I would definitely opt to do again in a heartbeat.

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