The rickshaw bumps along the road and screeches to a stop in front of the Emergency Department at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital (DMH) in Pune, India. DMH is the 400-bed tertiary care hospital where I spent a month on an international health elective. The goal of my rotation was to gain a better understanding of the scope of emergency medicine abroad. In particular, I wanted to observe how the specialty is being developed in a country where emergency medicine is in its infancy.
I spent my days at DMH riding in ambulances, participating in ICU rounds, caring for patients in the ED, and attending infectious disease clinic. I was exposed to a number of tropical diseases that are rarely seen in the US such as dengue and malaria. I also visited several volunteer clinics in nearby slums. Through these experiences, I improved my physical exam and gained confidence in my ability to utilize my clinical skills in an unfamiliar setting.
As a culmination of my experience in India I attended EMCON 2008, an international conference on emergency medicine, where I met many of the pioneers of emergency medicine in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. This conference was a pivotal experience for me as it rekindled my passion for international health and motivated me to incorporate it into my career going forward. I am grateful to be part of a residency that makes experiences such as this possible. -By Erika Schroeder, MD