Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mind the gap

Since I have come back from traveling, people have asked me how I enjoyed it - especially India since I hadn't been there before. I have to say that I am really glad to have gone to India. I learned a lot about India and about myself. It was rewarding to see how medicine really works in "charity hospitals" (I didn't get to see much of "real" medicine in Vietnam, since I was working in an international clinic). I am still struck by my experiences and what I saw. I saw shortcuts being taken in patient care, inadequate medical supplies and equipment (and personnel) being stretched beyond their means, and diseases that I had only read about in textbooks. None of this was to the fault of the medical personnel, who were simply doing their jobs the best way they knew how. Looking back, it was a wonderful experience and I don't regret going. However, it was also a stark lesson in the gap between rich and poor in India and helped me reflect on that same gap (albeit smaller) in the United States. An article in the New York Times today brought it to my attention, so I guess that's what led me to writing about it tonight.

So, did I have a good time in India? Sincerely, I don't know. I had some great memories and met some wonderful people. I learned a lot in medicine and grew as an individual. However, I don't know if I can say that I had a good time in India. Do I wish I hadn't gone? Of course not.

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