On reflections of a future profession in medicine

Avery Haugen
June 17, 2016

It has been almost officially three weeks here in Santiago, Chile and I have had classes at IES Abroad, classes at La Pontificia Universidad Católica, observations in pre/post partum and pre/post surgery at the public hospital, observations in the private university hospital OR, been out to eat at restaurants, been on a very extreme mud hike, been to the mall and subsequently to the movie theater, and made my way across all parts of the city. How’s that for a run-on sentence to start off this post? To my dear friends, family, and strangers reading this: I am pleased to tell you that I have adjusted well to living here in South America and am doing my best to live out all the Chilean dreams during my short seven weeks here. The scary morning metro rides that I feared so much the first week are now some of the most mundane parts of my day. The mixture of nerves and anticipation I felt toward my first medical observations have long since been replaced with eagerness and excitement. On the first observation of the week I stood over an operating table with an open abdomen below me with blood spattered surgical rags covering the circular retractor that held apart the entrance into the human body being operated on. Monday mornings, right? You best believe I followed that up with an all too American trip to the nearest Starbucks for a dulce de leche latte. It’s the little things that keep me going… Every day brings new discoveries and stories to remember, reasons to start new conversations or revisit old ones. The private clinics here rival those of the top hospitals in the United States in almost every way but the public hospitals and health centers are where the divide between private and public sectors becomes more evident. The quality of the equipment and resources is substantially diminished and patient treatment suffers in the cases of optional and non-emergent procedures. Some of the people here wait years for a simple cataract surgery. What isn’t diminished, however, is the geniality of the patients, doctors, and nurses all working in conjunction toward a greater state of public health. In fact, it may even be heightened in the areas where patients can’t afford as many luxuries. An overwhelming sense of excitement sweeps across the rooms as we students enter, representing future medical professionals of the United States who have come all the way to Chile to speak with and share time with the patients at these hospitals. In my opinion, the spirit of healing and medicine isn’t found in the high tech operating rooms or the top of the line hospital cafés, gift shops, or patient lounges but rather in the hearts of patients who feel truly privileged to be provided medical care of any caliber and share a room filled with other patients and beds all waiting to be seen by the same doctor. 

For now, find me in the local Juan Valdez or other coffee shop variant studying for my next Spanish test, public health quiz, or just contemplating the meaning of going into a profession in medicine. I have been thinking about it a lot lately and to all the nurses, doctors, techs, surgeons, and other medical professionals I have met: you are the kinds of people I hope to emulate successfully someday. It took an international trip for me to really find and delve into the meaning of healthcare and serving in a health profession and I will pursue that until I am a fully integrated into the medical community. Thank you to my professors, fellow students, hospital coordinators, and patients who have allowed me to explore different kinds and styles of medicine, patient care, public and private health services, and of course driving motivations to help fellow humans. I am thankful here in Santiago.


Avery Haugen

<p>Hi everyone! Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime with me in Santiago, Chile! I am a biochemistry and Spanish double major from Dallas, Texas who loves horseback riding and playing polo. I also love plane rides, spending time outside, cooking (or at least attempting to), reading, trying new teas, petting animals, and watching old movies. I have traveled a lot in Spanish-speaking countries and pretty much nowhere else, currently working on a travel bucket list to at least 3 more continents.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Texas Christian University
Biological Chemistry
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