Beverly Williams, MD: Greater Lawrence Family Health Center PGY2

Ghana: September 2021

 The instant we landed in Ghana, Western Africa, I became tachycardic. My heart was racing with excitement, anticipation, and fear. Am I going to be able to help these patients? Do I have enough medical knowledge under my belt? How can I best adapt to their culture and to their way of life? My attendings, Dr. Waite and Dr. Moorehouse, who call Ghana their “second home,” assured me that as long as my heart was in it, it would be okay. They also told me that I possessed the greatest tool any doctor could own—my hands. During my 3 weeks in Ghana, I relied on my hands to palpate the ever so elusive liver or spleen, or to palpate the induration surrounding infected wounds. We had basic x-rays and point of care ultrasound. There was no such thing as CT scans or MRIs, but that was okay because we had the most basic, first tool any doctor ever possessed: our hands.

 You see, during my time in Ghana, I was fortunate enough to be the first person to ever welcome a newborn into this world. I was there when patients took their last breaths, and I was there in the OR as we desperately tried to save a patients’ limbs from horrific accidents. But as I looked up in the sky one night while I was walking home late from the hospital, I saw the moon. A wave of clarity fell over me and I realized that I was looking at the exact same moon as I had many times prior. It was at that exact moment that I realized that the people of Ghana are just like you and me: we both have hopes and we both have dreams. However, the injustices of the World have determined that while I dream of a hot latte on my way to work, they simply dream of clean typhoid-free drinking water. And that is the fact that broke me, humbled me, changed me. Now that I have returned to my residency program, I find myself day-dreaming and transporting myself back to Ghana. It’s almost as if I am searching for something—perhaps a piece of my heart that remained there…