Prashanth, Sam, Patrick, and Alex, are four Australian medical center volunteers who account the ups and downs they experienced during their time in Buenos Aires.
They shared their insight on topics such as, the professional impact of their decision to come here, some obstacles they came across in placement, observations about the industry, and advice for future volunteers.
The presence of a language barrier is the most common apprehension about coming to Buenos Aires. Prashanth explained how the language barrier influenced his experience.
“It was tough. We did study Spanish before we came here, but it’s one thing to study Spanish than actually be in the heat of the moment. Dr. Navarro does speak a little bit of English, and because it’s medicine, the words are quite similar. The first day, he had all these bones in his office, and we were comparing the names in English in Spanish with the different landmarks in the bones. It’s like a parallel language. You can kind of understand. Drugs often have the same names.”
Regardless of how technical your language use may be in Argentina, finding a common linguistic ground is an exciting learning experience. Additionally, as Prashant leads to before, being among natives is significantly more useful towards learning a language than sitting in a classroom. Consider every conversation with a native to be like a private Spanish lesson.
Building Professional Relationships
During this experience, the guys shadowed Dr. Navarro in the clinic. He was their local coordinator, mentor, and the lead Doctor in the medical facility. Sam explained his relationship with his mentor:
“It was good. The first time we got there he was quite open and friendly, he made us some mate which was nice. Mate was good! We’ve been making mate at home.”
Local coordinators are a great resource of volunteer placement, in this case Dr. Navarro was not only open and friendly a professional manner, but he also made sure the volunteers where settling well into the culture as a whole. Dr. Navarro is none for making volunteers feel comfortable throughout their experience.
While everyday can pose different obstacles and opportunities in a volunteer experience, some typical daily tasks remained the same. Patrick explained:
“We would shadow Dr. Navaro and see patients with him. The patient would come in he’d talk a bit to the patient, talk to us a little bit. If we wanted to have a talk with the patient we could try. We would look through the charts. If they had X Rays or stuff like that we could look through. There were different procedures that we could perform.”
So, daily tasks usually involve presence and engagement with the mentor. Observation hours are crucial in the medical field as you can note not only how diagnoses are made and carried out, but you can also learn about how the Doctor conducts his practice as a whole, including his relationships with his patients and colleagues.
Career Exploration/ Professional Development
Volunteering abroad can give you experience in your industry that both looks good on your resume, and helps with future decisions regarding your career. When asked if his time in Buenos Aires had provided any insight on his career path, Alex stated:
“Dr. Navaro is a Traumatologist and I think I want to be a Traumatologist now. Just like him. So he’s an inspiration to me.”
Clearly, an experience like this is rather professionally insightful.
The four Australians seemed to have had an amazing time in Buenos Aires and in their placement. They got to explore a new city while still furthering their career. Prashanth gave parting words to future volunteers….
“I would tell them go for it. You can have a great time in Buenos Aires or wherever you go, and you can always learn. It is possible to balance those interests. You don’t have to just lock yourself in a library and study the whole time.”