I’ve had a great experience in clinic this first week. Normally we work in pairs seeing patients, with a few students with less advanced Spanish triaging patients and working in the pharmacy. I am the more advanced Spanish speaker in the pair so occasionally it is a little overwhelming but I’ve found clinic to be really great practice for both speaking and listening, especially with understanding patients who don’t speak clearly like the teachers at the school or who use vocabulary and idioms that are less familiar. I has also been a new and interesting challenge presenting and discussing patients in Spanish with the Guatemalan doctors who precept us in clinic. I have really enjoyed watching them interact with patients- they have great bedside manners and are really great people.
The patient population has been an interesting mix of acute and chronic issues. We started running both morning and afternoon clinics for the first time this week so we had a lot of new patients which may have made for a lot more acute issues than normal. As we were advised, lots of patients are suffering from generalized pains, that many describe as bone pain, which we have been taught may be related to dehydration, fatigue, malnutrition, and stress. I’ve also already learned a lot about the subtleties of parasitic infections from the Guatemalan physicians which has been really helpful and I think the volume of the infections will be really instructive. But the acute complaints have been really interesting! I have had a patient I was worried was having a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a patient with really severe symptoms of early onset menopause, patients with multiple acute gynecological conditions, and a patient we were concerned might be developing multiple sclerosis. I definitely think there is a lot to be learned here in clinic both from a medical perspective and from a language perspective and I’m excited about the upcoming weeks.