Julia Tse, MD: Lawrence FM PGY3
Guatemala: February 2018

For two weeks I volunteered at Hospitalito Atitlán, a nonprofit hospital located in Santiago, a town in Guatemala with the majority of people of Mayan indigenous heritage. I rounded with the other doctors on the hospitalized inpatients and saw patients in the clinic. On some days, I evaluated patients in the emergency room. I presented on a medical topic in the morning to share what I have been learning in my residency training. I participated in a few outreach clinics in neighboring towns providing free care to pregnant women and other adults and children. I practiced relying more on clinical judgment and less on lab results that we could not get on time. I learned about how patients make medical decisions based on cost, such as the unwillingness to travel to the bigger cities for a higher level of care because of the cost of the ambulance. Another perspective I gained from this experience was on the diversity of the population, with Spanish actually not being the primary language. This experience reiterated the significance of having a doctor who speaks the language of the community. There are few doctors from indigenous communities despite having a large indigenous population throughout Guatemala. At Hospitalito, patients see doctors who can speak the local language. The patients show more trust in the medical care because of this. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn more of the history of the country where some of my patients grew up.

Back to FIELD REPORTS page
The Benjamin H. Josephson, MD Fund
Overlook Medical Center / Atlantic Health System
Summit, New Jersey