Aidan Warren '17 and I have just volunteered at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap for three months. We started in the Global Child Health Program Department, conducting an enlightening mortality review for the hospital for a month. This involved assessing and reviewing the hospital’s performance in its various wards, by seeing the patients’ files and learning what happened to them, and calculating what proportion were beyond saving on arrival. Ultimately, the task taught me a lot about the harsh realities a doctor faces and expanded my medical knowledge - both of which will prove very useful in my pursuit of Medicine in the future. The results also proved useful to the hospital, with discussion points being raised with senior doctors, and interesting statistical findings present.
For the next two months, Aidan and I then worked in the Communications Department. Our main task was devising and implementing a new system and structure for the Hospital’s photos to allow for easier use. This is so important because these photos are typically used for fundraising purposes or pursuing donors - which is how the Hospital provides its free healthcare services to the community in Siam Reap. In addition, we created two informative documents for how to find and correctly name and store pictures, enabling everyone to use the images on the server with ease. During this stretch, I feel I developed an understanding of what regular working days truly entail, how to work with different people (sometimes with a bit of a language barrier), as well as appreciate another aspect that makes a hospital run smoothly and successfully.
One enjoyable bonus included immensely educational ward rounds in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with a microbiologist, a handful of doctors and nurses, and medical students. Another educational benefit was attending a couple of lectures by two Swiss volunteer doctors on Genetic Diseases, and Tuberculosis.
Overall, the whole experience proved to be extremely useful, aligned with my future studies, and turned out to be very worthwhile. In particular, the three months living in a new country and taking care of myself allowed me to grow in maturity and independence- qualities that will be helpful throughout life. In addition to the aforementioned lessons, I also learned about the various medical conditions that afflict children, and in seeing the local clinics and health posts, I learned more about the healthcare issue present in Cambodia. It is because of this, combined with my positive experience at the hospital, and the major difference the hospital makes to society in its array of services, that I would love to return as a medical volunteer in the future, able to offer more.
Around 10% of UWCSEA's graduating class goes on some form of Gap Year - learn more about our Gap Year programme.
Avi will start his studies in Medicine at King's College London in September 2018.