International Studies & Programs

Meaningful experiences in Mexico

Throughout the week, I got to witness surgery, the ER, and the clinic. I got to see things that I could never forget, and I got to interact with patients in a meaningful way.

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Published: Friday, 26 Apr 2024 Author: Ayla Johnson

Students swimming in cenotesI am a first-generation college student who has to make connections and experiences for myself, and that often has its own challenges. When I applied for this program, I was hoping to get some further knowledge of medicine before applying to medical school this cycle. I didn’t know what to expect and I don’t speak any Spanish, but that didn’t stop me. I felt like it would be a perfect experience for when I enter the real world, and I was not wrong.

Leading up to the program, I had many questions- what would it be like when I got there? What kind of rotations will I be going on and will I do fine with them? I am not usually an over-stressor, but this program was out of my hands. Once I saw my coordinator waiting for my group at the airport, all my worries went away, and the week of a lifetime came in. I didn’t expect to get all the experience I did, and I am surprised we did it all in one week.

On the first day, we did a cultural day that included eating lunch and going swimming in the Cenotes, which are caves that fill with rainwater that is considered sacred. We had a guided tour for that, and it was fascinating to learn about their meaning and how Ayla holding a baby while wearing medical scrubsthe population views them. The tour was very relaxing for me, and I was able to get to know my groupmates a bit better. The lunch that day included a chaya drink, which is a plant that is refreshing and gives electrolytes back, Sopa de lima, and a peanut chip dip. The food tasted so rich, and I was all for trying everything new while I was there.

Throughout the week, I got to witness surgery, the ER, and the clinic. I got to see things that I could never forget, and I got to interact with patients in a meaningful way. The hospitals that we rotated in were busy, but they were efficient. Something that I learned about Mexico that I did not know before I went is that they have universal healthcare, which includes prescriptions. When doctors write scripts, the patients walk up to the pharmacy and get their required medication at no cost. This made me happy, as often in the States people worry about how they will afford the medication that they need to survive.

Lastly, the coordinators that we had were passionate about our learning, and it was obvious that they were happy for us to be there. There was a day in which one of my coordinators went to the chief at one of our rotations and got me in to see a C-section. That was the first one I had seen, and it was the thing I was looking forward to the most because I may be interested in obstetrics. I had such an amazing time being able to see a birth- I was amazed at how they ripped her open and got the baby out I wasn’t sure how they were done, but it wasn’t like that. My favorite part was being able to witness the mother seeing her baby for the first time, and I will never forget that moment.

This program has helped me grow as a person, and I am excited to be able to use the skills I have developed. I plan on taking my knowledge and using it to grow as a physician. I am so thankful that I got this opportunity!

Name: Ayla Johnson
Status: Junior
Major: Human Biology
Hometown: Wyandotte, Michigan
Program: Community Medicine in the Yucatan