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Angela Niezgoda - Peru Global Outreach

Published: Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Angela Niezgoda

Status: Second Year Medical Student


Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan

Program: Peru Global Outreach Program 2017

These past two weeks have been life changing. I am not only honored but grateful to have been a part of the Peru Global Outreach 2017. Beginning in Lima, we threw ourselves into the culture trying the cuisine. My personal favorite was the ceviche. The fish was so fresh and the flavors were amazing! Also, our time in Lima we shadowed a doctor in a hospital along with medical students from San Fernando. Seeing the infrastructure of the hospital was eye opening. I was not expecting the military barrack style beds lining the halls of the hospital. However, despite the lack of privacy, the attention each patient had from the doctor and students was astounding. The doctor worked so well with the students, and you could genuinely tell he wanted to teach and help them learn. For example, in the case of the patient with a Peptic Ulcer, he explained all the lab work in detail and other symptoms the patient presented with that push's you from one differential to the next. Seeing this learning first hand, puts me at high hopes for how our rotations at the base hospitals will be. In addition to touring the hospital and shadowing a physician we also toured the oldest medical school in Peru. Walking into this school, felt like we were taking a step back in time. The architecture was beautiful, and really showed its historic roots. Being able to look at the botanical garden, and seeing all the ways they use plants for medicinal purposes was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the different ways you can use the plants.  This resource for rural regions such as Peru, is an asset to treating patients. Learning ways to use natural remedies, was important to me because I believe a pill isn't always the answer to healing. I really enjoyed this experience and the knowledge they had to offer.

After leaving Lima, we headed to Iquitos, and began to set up for clinic. Although emerging myself into the Peruvian culture was amazing, my favorite part of the program was the clinic. Being able to care for patients that deserve it the most, is truly inspiring. The first day of clinic, I helped a patient with a goiter. She lived most of her life with hyperthyroidism, that was not controlled. Medications were too expensive, and the goiter had started to enlarge so much that eating had become difficult. I was so grateful we could refer her to surgery, and be able to remove her goiter. Her smile on her face was contagious, and even though there was a language barrier, moments like these are transparent. During clinic, I rotated through Pediatrics, Dermatology, Neurology, General, Pharmacy and OB/GYN. Each rotation, I was grateful that the attending's and residents allowed me to take the full history and perform the Physical exam. Being able to practice these skills is crucial for me because, it allows you to develop a patient centered exam and allows me to integrate all our knowledge from our course material. It also allowed me to work on my verbal presentations and figuring out a plan and assessment. Integrating all this information, at such an early stage in my medical education allows me to gain confidence to move forward with in the rest of my courses.

In addition to clinic, I was also able to work on my HPV project. Being a part of a long-term point of care was meaningful. I enjoyed being able to do pelvic exams and gathering samples to further our project. Making an impact on women's health is important to me. With cervical cancer being the leading cause of death in Peruvian women, gathering samples will allow us to collect data, and determine the effectiveness of a nationwide vaccine campaign for Peru. If data continues as years past, it'll demonstrate the need to include more HPV genotypes with in the vaccine to have a broader coverage for all the high-risk strains. Being able to be a part of this project really added a depth to this mission program, my time and work is not for just two weeks and then I leave it goes beyond that. This year we also obtained samples that we could run loop mediated isothermal amplification on. This screening tool is a fast way to identify HPV strains and STI's with sensitivity and specificity. Although, some of the primer's in our plates did not work, being able to run this preliminary screen, can be worked on for future studies. Hopefully in the future this rapid assay can be run, and give quick and reliable results that can allow us to better educate and treat women in a rural setting.

Besides clinic we also did amazing excursions on the Amazon. Being able to see all the wildlife was my favorite. I never knew the Amazon had pink dolphins, and going dolphin watching to see these mammals was awesome! I even got to hold a sloth at a village and hold a monkey at monkey island. In addition, we got to do a canopy walk. I appreciated that our tickets helped maintain the jungle and made sure that the land was protected. At the top of the canopy walk you could see for miles. The view was phenomenal.

Overall, this program was not only humbling but a life changing experience. Working alongside of incredible people, only pushed me to work harder, and deliver the best possible care that I could to the people of Peru. I hope one day I can return to Peru, and pick up where I left off. Until then, Peru will have a piece of my heart.