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From the students: Hospital internship in Jodhpur, India

30. July 2012 I have been focusing primarily on science and medicine over the last two and half years. For some time now, I have been toying with the idea of becoming a physician, so I would like to study at a medical school at a university in the UK once I have completed my studies of the International Baccalaureate program at the Open Gate eight-year secondary school.

In order to gain experience in the field, I took part in a two-week volunteer hospital internship in India’s northernmost city of Jodhpur, which with 1.2 million citizens is Rajasthan’s second largest after Jaipur. I was able to do this thanks to the financial support from The Kellner Family Foundation from July 15 to July 28, 2012.

After addressing all formal matters regarding my visa, I set out for the Ruzyně airport in the night before Saturday, the 14th of July, from where I flew to Vienna just after 7 am. I changed planes in Vienna and landed in the capital of India, New Delhi, around midnight, and then I had to wait for a long 12 hours due to the paucity of flights to Jodhpur. My greatest experience in all three flights was a one-hour conversation during the flight to Jodhpur with an elderly Indian, who told me about his space medicine research at Austria’s University of Graz.

Having arrived, I and 25 more people checked in the headquarters of the Gap Medics agency, known as the Jasol House in the city. On the very next day, which was Monday, I set out to the Shri Ram hospital – a passage of some 25 minutes in a rickshaw – a small three-wheeled vehicle used here – and all over India – as a taxicab. I would then commute to the hospital for the whole two weeks: to the general surgery ward during the first week, and then to the orthopedics ward. While some of the private hospitals in India are better than the best hospitals in Europe, a vast majority are in a sorry state.

To get an idea: the area in front of the Shri Ram Hospital was dominated by a bunch of parked motorcycles and an endless crowd of people walking inside. Just a few meters away from the hospital there was a large group of rickshaw drivers along the main two-way road, and they kept shouting, trying to attract the patients who were leaving the hospital. When I walked in, I was surprised by the confined areas where patients were just crowded in. Not only was the total number of patients in all of the hospital about six times higher than in an average hospital in our country – to this day, I am trying to grasp how patients were able to wait for a check-up for five or more hours. I almost fainted from dehydration and stale air in the room where a plastic surgeon was bandaging severed fingers on the hand of a man who was barely twenty years old on my first day. Yet the biggest surprise for me was the hygienic conditions throughout the hospital. Where European hospitals have disinfectant containers in accordance with accepted standards, I never saw one in this hospital. When replacing bandage after reconstructive surgeries, the aforementioned plastic surgeon often didn’t bother to use a new, sterile bandage, and he wasn’t too concerned about disinfection during minor surgeries such as treatment of septic wounds either.

Of course, none of that was the case in operations, where they were incredibly dexterous and precise. In this respect, my field experience in the hospital was amazing, as I was able to witness various surgeries such as one using the Brunnstrom Approach, a hysterectomy, a hemorrhoid surgery, and skin transplants rectifying electrical burns. I also have to say that both surgeons who worked at the general surgery ward were very helpful to all of us, and they kindly explained all of the procedures to us. The only obstacle there was during the informational lectures, with the occasionally difficult accent of the doctors, which, combined with poor acoustics in the rooms, often made their words unintelligible.

Not only did I greatly improve my knowledge of what a physician’s day is about and what it takes to be a surgeon – I also learned a lot about the healthcare system in India and was able to appreciate how good our healthcare system really is. I also met a few exceptional people, not all of them from the UK, and had one of the best holidays in my life, for sure. I would like to use this opportunity to thank The Kellner Family Foundation for its generous support, thanks to which I was able to have my hospital internship in India.

Libor Mysliveček, student Open Gate

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