Carolyn: Week 2 in Oaxaca

This past week, I had the opportunity of visiting Hospital Civil in which I shadowed doctors in the neonatal unit, in the emergency room, and during a surgery (hysterectomy). After 2 weeks in Oaxaca and some reflection, I believe that the way in which we have described patient-doctor interactions is not, for the most part, dehumanizing. In many of our end-of-day reflections, I notice that the patient-doctor interactions that are shared have to do with concerns regarding confidentiality, respect, and trust. Ultimately, many these observations are objectively critical and I believe this type of observation is necessary to maximize learning. However, I do believe that one area in which we could have been too critical is observations involving sanitation practices. There have been many times in which some of us have discussed physicians not using gloves, reusing equipment without cleaning it, etc. Although it’s normal to be surprised about these practices at first, it is important to recognize that these practices are due to lack of funding and resources than to lack of knowledge. The way in which some of us could be attributing such practices to the latter reason could be considered dehumanizing but overall I believe that we all have been good about keeping objective lenses when observing health facilities.
When observing patients and physicians, I am aware of whether my personal biases and expectations are affirmed or contradicted. One recent example is when observing the hysterectomy, I initially thought that the surgeon would mostly be using a scalpel to perform the surgery, as was usually used the US. Instead, he used a tool that burned the body tissue in order to cut it. It was surprising because I had never been exposed to that technique and it seemed rather strange at first. As the surgery progressed, however, I noticed that there were no complications and the procedure was completed within an hour which is rather quick. My expectation was contradicted but in an enlightening manner. This experience taught me that the doctor is, almost all the time, the medical expert and they make certain decisions because they’re aware of what they’re doing.

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