We already told you about Anton Gillespie — the doctor-to-be and junior student at Harvard University — who went to Moscow to get an internship at Federal Center for Pediatric Onco-Hematology. Podari Zhizn and Podari Life helped him to get an internship and now, when the trip is over, Anton shares his impressions about work and fun at the clinics.
"I think that my time in the hospital was very valuable for me. First about my time shadowing the doctors:
It was a really useful experience to watch how the doctors interact with their patients. Before this summer, I did not have many opportunities to watch doctors interact with patients who were actually staying in the hospital, only with patients who were coming into their offices for appointments.
It is definitely a very different manner because the patients in the hospital are much sicker, and especially because they are all children here. And I learned that there is not only one way — some doctors keep their visits very short yet present themselves as very knowledgeable and decisive, while others are very sweet with the children and take their time to make them feel comfortable.
I also had the opportunity to see how the family members of the patient are affected by the illness. I never realized how much of the care has to fall upon the parents, usually the mothers, who have to constantly keep watch of the child’s temperature, bodily functions, etc. I’ve seen how the children react to their own illnesses — some seem very sad and quiet as if they are contemplating the gravity of their situation, while others are upbeat and become very excited by even the smallest joys.
This firsthand experience watching the doctors, the children, and the family members was very useful in helping me to understand all of the emotions and dynamics of the relationships in the hospital room. Sometimes the doctors would try to explain the details of the diseases and procedures to me, but this wasn’t super useful to me, since I am not even in medical school yet and there was not much I could understand. However, just being able to observe everything was very valuable. It would have been nice to see a few more surgeries, but I did get to see one at least. And it would have been nice to switch around more between different departments of the clinics.
And about the volunteering — as I got a chance to spend some time with the children as a friend:
The game nights and movie nights were a lot of fun and it was great to get to know some patients as friends rather than in a professional manner.
I saw that despite going through very difficult times with their illnesses, they are all really still just normal kids, and they love to play games and goof off and wrestle and tell stories and watch Youtube videos and learn bad words in English just like any other kids.
Sometimes I saw children at the events whom I had visited weeks earlier in their own private hospital rooms when I was shadowing the doctors, and it was very sweet to see that they had recovered enough to come to the guest house for rehabilitation.
On the other hand, there were happy, seemingly healthy children in the guest house one day who suddenly became very sick again and were moved back to private rooms the next day, and I learned how unpredictable this illness can be.
It was a really great experience!".