Thanks to the generosity of the Class of 2010, I was able to spend my fourth-year elective combining my passions of ultrasound education and international medicine in Roatan, Honduras. I worked directly with the Honduran doctors who provide care to over 100 patients daily at Clinica Esperanza – a clinic that provides pediatric, medicine and obstetric care to the island natives.
The clinic had two ultrasound machines for use. However the Honduran physicians are not instructed in ultrasound during their medical education and training so they were not utilizing the machines available. Each day, I would spend 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon teaching ultrasound while caring for patients.
The Honduran doctor in the morning, Dr. Emma Nova, evaluated all of the obstetric patients. When I arrived she told me the ultrasound wasn’t working because the screen was too dark. I increased the gain and the image improved and she was amazed! When I arrived she did not use the ultrasound in her evaluation of the pregnant patients. Instead she measured uterus size with a tape measure and used a Doppler to assess fetal heart rate. Dr. Nova was a fast learner and when I left she was using the ultrasound to assess fetal heart rate and also to date pregnancies in each trimester. The best part of this was seeing the joy in each mom ‘s face when they saw their babies for the first time!
Dr. Jayleen Coleman was the afternoon Honduran physician. She saw general medical patients and was excited about all aspects of bedside ultrasound. We used the ultrasound to evaluate gallbladder, kidneys, aorta, heart, lungs, DVT – basically anything and everything we could! Because of the broad range of applications, Dr. Jayleen was not independent with any one ultrasound exam. But I know that with more practice she will be able to incorporate point-of-care ultrasound and improve care for her patients at Clinica Esperanza.
While in Roatan, I also hired a local woman, Karina, for individual Spanish lessons. I spent 2 hours a day with her in her home. It was such a pleasure getting to know Karina, her nine-year-old daughter Alice and her dog Molly. It was an experience I will never forget!
For my elective I spent a month at Clinica Esperanza on the Island of Roatan just off the north coast of Honduras. I had a mixed role in the clinic where I spent many of my mornings providing basic primary care, peds and OB consults to some of the 80 patients the clinic sees each morning. The clinic is the primary healthcare provider for over 10,000 island families treating everything from hypertension and diabetes to snake bites and scuba diving injuries.
In the afternoon, I spent time helping the administrative staff of the clinic complete a formal evaluation of the visiting medical student experience. I was responsible for talking to the permanent clinic staff, the visiting medical students as well as community members and small business owners to help assess the status of the current rotation and provide suggestions about how it might be improved. Through this collaborative effort we were able to provide the clinic with many suggestions that will hopefully both improve the visiting medical students' experience and also begin a more thorough discussion of how to best utilize visiting medical professionals and students for the benefit of the clinic and the larger community.