Claire Chavez describes her recent international medical rotation experience in Costa Rica!

Each year LMUV embarks on an international rotation. This year, I was fortunate enough to be apart of that rotation. After two weeks of planning, I spent three weeks in Costa Rica. The next three weeks will be spent in Nicaragua. I embarked on the journey with very few expectations, but what Igained out of the experience far exceeded any expectation I could have possibly conceived of and extended far beyond the bounds of medicine. I developed a new appreciation for how universal medicine really is. Working with the doctor during patient visits, the fundamental H&P transcended the differences between our training, language, and culture. When I first arrived the culture seemed vastly different from the states but by the end I felt more athome. I had a chance to work with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The clinic doctor, Dr. Stedem, with his compassionate spirit, willingness to teach and ability to think on his feetshowed me about the kind of physician it takes to work withthe underserved. He showed me that working with those populations is not only possible but also rewarding on so many different levels. Camilo, the fabulous clinic supervisor, truly made the experience unforgettable. I believe that without him none of the public health campaigns would have made anylasting impact. Each week we worked with a new group of students. We had to quickly overcome differences, adapt to new challenges, be very flexible, and learn to utilize individualstrengths to mold ourselves into a cohesive unit. We started as colleagues but left as friends.

The home stay, besides acting as a complete cultural immersion experience, allowed me to access a patient’s perspective of the Costa Rican health care system, and, through working with the doctor, I gained a professional perspective of that system. These perspectives have given me a new way to reflect on the health care system in the US, both its pros and cons. However, I have come to appreciate the doctor-physician relationship as the core of both systems.

As I look back over the past three weeks I have taken away more than just a new appreciation for the beauty of medicine, an admiration of the culture and improvement in my Spanish. I have made life-long friends, found the good in challenging situations and have become a better person and future physician because of my experience. Leaving is definitely bittersweet. To my Costa Rican family, I will miss you dearly and thank you for all the wonders you have shown me over the past three weeks.

-Claire Chavez, MS-III