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Global Health Blog

A Journey to Remember

By Abigail Gyamfi, MD, PGY-2
 Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency


There are no words to describe how I looked forward with anticipation for my global health trip to Liberia and no words are enough to shed light on my experience in Liberia.

My time in the ER at the ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Libera working beside fellow Family Medicine residents, managing health concerns including DKA, CHF, HTN urgency/emergencies, and GIB to name a few, left me feeling awed by how much could be done to save lives with so little, not easy but they do their best. My OB/GYN experience left me amazed watching OB/Family Medicine residents independently perform surgeries and procedures and save lives due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

I have come to learn to listen and look at my patient more when it comes to care because it’s not every day that I will have the liberty of labs and diagnostic tools available to me. This realization also impressed upon me to help promote health equity as a provider because frankly, health inequality permeates our daily lives no matter where we find ourselves.

Overall, my time in Liberia was filled with great moments – be it in the ER, managing severe malaria, in the OR assisting with C-Section, performing neonatal resuscitative efforts, or getting on the Keke for the first time by myself to perform an errand, the pleasure of getting to know the people inside and outside the hospital – it’s an opportunity I will remember and treasure in this life of mine.

Monrovia, Liberia

By Beshoy Sidhom, MD
2021 graduate, Worcester Family Medicine Residency

Coming into residency, I knew that I wanted to do global health work as part of my career.
UMass had the most generous global health track I encountered during my search, allowing us to go abroad for a month every year of residency. But what makes Barre even more special is that the rural setting with limited resources and managing very sick patients in clinic really prepared me for my global clinical experiences.

I was very fortunate this year to go to ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia and spend a block there doing some clinical work, teaching, research, and mentoring. It was an incredible learning experience filled with many challenges. As a family doctor in Liberia, you are expected to do EVERYTHING for your patients and you must do it with the limited resources available. I was reminded almost daily by staff that “every discharge is a miracle.”

I was involved in neonatal resuscitation, taking care of children with malnutrition both inpatient and outpatient, triaging patients in the ED, managing adults with complex medical conditions (HIV/AIDS, malaria, hemorrhagic fever, tertiary syphilis, TB, hepatitis, severe anemia, GI bleeds, severe heart failure exacerbations, and septic shock, just to name a few), reading CT scans and X-rays, performing diagnostic bedside ultrasounds, performing complex procedures bedside, and even assisting with a vacuum delivery. But every step of the way, I felt that my educational experiences in residency had prepared me for the new challenge. 

This experience taught me a lot about managing complex patients even when the resources are not available. I also learned a lot about diseases that we rarely see in the United States and how they are effectively managed. But I think the most impactful way this experience affected me was through learning to deal with death and loss despite our best efforts and appreciating when things go well because every discharge is a miracle.