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Jack Pfieffer - Pre-clinical Observation in Mexico

Published: Monday, 27 Jun 2016
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Jack Pfeiffer

Status: Senior

Major: Neuroscience/Pre-Medicine

Hometown: Otsego, MI

Program: Pre-Clinical Observation – Mérida, Mexico


On my study abroad program to the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, I learned about healthcare in a country less privileged than our own and I also got a deeper look at what a career in medicine would be like. Every morning, we observed patient visits, surgeries, and deliveries, an opportunity I would have never been able to receive in the U.S., where such shadowing opportunities are unheard of for undergraduate students. Seeing actual patients in a clinical setting truly enhanced my passion for people of all backgrounds and my desire to treat them as a physician. Then, each afternoon, we attended a lecture. My favorite lecture was at a Mexico medical school, where we practiced phlebotomy (blood draws) and CPR on very realistic mannequins. The phlebotomy arms even had red liquid-filled "veins" into which we had to insert our needles properly to succeed.


In addition to the clinical experiences, I was exposed to the beautiful culture and landscape of the Yucatán peninsula. One of my biggest goals going in to the program was to effectively communicate with a local using my high school-level Spanish. I accomplished this on several occasions as asked how many pesos my souvenirs would cost, ordered delicious food like tamales and empanadas at many of the most incredible restaurants and bars I've ever seen, and even wished a Happy Mother's Day to a new mother at the maternal hospital on May 10, which is the official date of Mother's Day in Mexico.


Sightseeing in Mérida was a dream-come-true as well. The city is full of picturesque Spanish-style buildings like the stunning Cathedral, the oldest church on the American mainland. It also has dozens of pristine parks laced with palm trees and statues and monuments everywhere, including a huge monument to the Mayan people located in the middle of a roundabout. Mérida is truly the most amazing place I've ever visited. We also took day trips to a Caribbean beach and to the Mayan ruins at Uxmal, which were an incredible glance at history and culture unlike anything I've seen before. In all, my study abroad program to Mexico was definitively one of the greatest things I've done with my life, as I have a deepened passion for medicine, for people of all backgrounds, and for international travel. I will forever treasure my time in Mérida.