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Medical intern Devon giving care to a child

Devon's Diary: How an Internship Changed Me

The Story of a Medical Intern in Kenya

By Devon F | 01st September, 2022
  • Name: Devon F
  • Degree: Public Health with a Minor in Sociology
  • Destination: Nanyuki, Kenya
  • Project: Medical Internship
  • Date: 10th July - 30th July 2022

My placement was at Consolata Hospital, where I worked with Dr Eric Butala, Moses, Kelvin, and other staff. During my time, I typically found myself either at my hospital placement or attending outreaches in local communities.

Completing 90 hours of community service in three weeks, every day was a learning opportunity. Showing an interest in learning and being confident opened doors to new medical activities.

Hospital Work

Medical Intern doing practical work in a hospital

At the hospital, I observed:

  • Catheterisation
  • Vaginal exams
  • Natural births
  • Reconstructive vaginoplasty
  • Inoculation
  • Numerous c-sections

Although some of my experiences brought forward sad emotions, it was an essential learning curve for me as a future medical professional.

From day one, the staff at Consolata took me in with open arms; they treated me as their own. I was comfortable asking questions, attending daily rounds, and making friends.

As time went on, I felt like I built long-term relationships because people were easy to bond with. I keep in contact with some colleagues even back home in Canada.

Caring for the Community

Medical volunteer with children in Kenya

On community outreaches, I visited Twutwu Village, Tangi Nyeusi Village, Tangi Nyeusi Uasonyiro School, and Dipatas Village. In these villages, I helped conduct basic health checks, including:

  • Weight measurements
  • Random blood sugar (RBS)
  • Blood pressure
  • HIV and malaria testing
  • Temperature checks
  • Evaluation of nutrition for children under 5
  • Consultations with a medical doctor
  • The administration of medications

At the school, we helped treat children who were infected with chigoe fleas, or “jiggers”, which burrow into people’s feet and cause an abundance of growth and infection. For some, it appeared to be quite painful. I noticed that the children most affected were those who did not have access to clean, closed-toed shoes.

The ubiquitous comment made to me about going on these trips is always something along the lines of “Wow, I wish I could do what you are doing.” The truth is that I am just another person in this world, like you. I love to learn and am comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I often feel anxious and stressed about travel, time away from family, and culture shock, just as anyone else would. I have chosen and will continue to choose to embark on these endeavours to push myself to my limits while using my privilege for the greater good.

A Day in My Diary

Medical intern with staff in Kenya

Below is a piece that I wrote after visiting Twutwu Village for my first medical outreach on July 15, 2022:

"Today I had the honour of visiting Twutwu Village in Kenya for medical outreach. The nearest medical facility is 15km away, accessible only by foot. People do not have equitable access to food, clean water, a bath, or medical care. What all of these people do have, though, is happiness and love to give to others and their village, despite the daily challenges they face.

I acknowledge the privilege I have in the life I have been given. I promised myself I would use my privilege to help others, and today I realised how such small actions can have an incredible impact on another life.

I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to give back to those in need. I don’t think I stopped smiling once today. I am so touched by the lives of every child I’ve got to meet and share the love with. The only thing that's stronger than hate in this world is love. So, if you can’t give anything else to those who need it most, give them your love.

Love is priceless, love is kind, and with love, we can celebrate unity in diversity."

Final Reflections

And that is what captures my learning and reflection on this trip. To hear about medicine and inequitable resource distribution around the globe from a Western standpoint is one thing. Observing it firsthand, though, gives the most accurate representation of what happens around us.

If I could give one piece of advice to people, it would be to seek out opportunities where you find yourself the most unsettled; these are the times when you are most malleable as an individual because you are vulnerable and lack expectations. If you expect nothing, you begin to appreciate everything around you a little more.

Medical volunteer with children on a volunteer project

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.

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