Bernadette Sylla, MD: MMC Pediatrics PGY2

Haiti: January 2020

 Going on this trip to Haiti was by far one of the most rewarding experiences in residency so far.

 Some of the most valuable lessons I learned were patience, gratitude, and compassion.

 Starting with the clinics, we had to learn to customize empty spaces and churches to function like a clinic. We saw at least 70 patients daily, who were a mix of children and adults. I had to learn patience in managing the patient load, using the available space wisely to the advantage of my patients, adhering to the limited resources to care for patients and also in filtering complaints and educating patients. Through the obvious lack of resources, including basic needs and medical necessities, I learned to be grateful. I came across many patients whose primary complaints were abdominal pain, which more often than not was related to hunger pains. Fortunately, there is a Medical MAMBA program in Haiti that assists children who are severely malnourished, it was however heartbreaking that a significant number of the children bounced back into the program due to poor nutritional intake. I came across many patients who suffered from dry skin which made them vulnerable to skin infections, condition that is easily manageable with some Vaseline, which is a luxury in Haiti. I was also grateful for the education I received in medical school and through my first year and half year of residency, which facilitated my ability to address patient complaints, pick up on lung infections and cardiac disease. Last but not least, in learning to be patient and grateful, I became even more compassionate.