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Majoring in Medicine Abroad

I am currently a junior, majoring in Physician Assistant Studies and studying abroad in Costa Rica. I declared Physician Assistant Studies as my major after completing an internship at a local hospital close to my hometown. I love that the medical field is constantly changing and that there is so much to learn! I have had many opportunities to experience different healthcare settings, such as a hospital, nursing home, and a medical mission trip. Studying abroad in Costa Rica has positively changed my perspective on many things, including the medical field.

The United States is very fortunate with healthcare facilities, research, and funding. Other countries are not, which means that people are not getting the adequate healthcare that they deserve. CEA has given me the opportunity to volunteer in a local hospital and I have been able to see just how big the gap is between healthcare in the United States versus other countries. I believe that studying abroad has taught me that if I can obtain a degree and a career in the medical field, I will be able to help so many people not only in the United States but in other countries as well.

The hospital that I volunteer in is a children’s hospital in downtown San Jose. The Spanish skills I developed in class helped me get the most out of my volunteer experience there. Talking to the nurses, I learned just how dedicated they are providing the best care they can. On the other hand, technology is not nearly as advanced as the United States, and there are also not as many private rooms. I learned that with limited resources, this hospital still functions very effectively and treats many patients. I believe that there should be more funding allocated to healthcare in Costa Rica to give people equal opportunities to receive treatment.

 Healthy Snacks

In Costa Rica, healthcare centers such as hospitals or clinics are not as abundant as the United States. For this reason, as well as cultural belief, homeopathic medicine is very prevalent here. In all the local markets, there are lots of fruits and herbs that are used in various ways to treat different ailments. For example, I had a sore throat and cough when I arrived in Costa Rica and my Mama Tica made me a home remedy to help with my symptoms. She combined rice, pineapple, herbs, and honey, then boiled the ingredients together. She drained the liquid from the pot and had me drink it. I was very surprised that this concoction soothed my throat and made me feel better!
 Mate, anyone?

Overall, I have been given a brand-new perspective of the healthcare field and realized that I was very biased before coming abroad. I really hope to be able to bring my skills to other countries when I graduate. I believe that being abroad showed me that I can have a big impact on communities with limited to no healthcare facilities by giving them information on topics such as personal hygiene that will make a difference in the long run. I am very grateful for the opportunities and education that I am receiving while being abroad!
 Soul searching

Lindsey C. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in San José. She is currently a Junior majoring in Physician Assistant Studies at Philadelphia University.

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