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Global Health Blog

Monrovia, Liberia
By Beshoy Sidhom, MD, PGY-3

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.