Anton Gillespie was a junior student at Harvard University when he's realized that he's dreaming about becoming a doctor. Before entering the forth year he's decided to volunteer in Russia. Podari Zhizn and Podari Life helped him to get an internship at Federal Center for Pediatric Onco-Hematology.
The initial thought was - I want to become a doctor, not necessarily an oncologist. But it's important for me to get an experience shadowing a doctor. To see how they interact with patients.
I came to Moscow at the end of June and since than I was with Sergei - he works with patients recovering from stem cell transplants and they have pretty strict sterile conditions.
I have not had any official medical training yet because in the US you get the academic training first. So I cannot participate in medical manipulations. So what we do is we go see a patient - the doctors sometimes let me listen to the lungs and explain for example that when you listen lower and don't hear anything, that means there is fluid.... all those little details.
The language barrier is not a problem because the doctors speak English and as for me - I have always been interested in learning Russian as my family is originally from Russia and I have this heritage. I'll start applying to medical schools at the beginning of next June so now is my time to settle with my interests.
Everybody talks about - when you have free health care, clinics are really bad and you better get to a private clinic. So I didn't expect how good this federal hospital really is. The quality of care, the attention to children, the volunteers and the quality of life are amazing. It totally blew my expectations.
When I first reached out to Podari Life - I thought whatever I'd do is great. And now I see daily work of a doctor, I spend 6 hours a day there. So I get a pretty good sense of what they are doing. How they communicate with parents and what the parents have to do and go through. I see all the paper work the doctors do. In America everything is more computerized.
I shad doctors in the USA, but never shad doctors while they are seing patients in a hospital - never had this "field practice".
As for the difference that I see right now - I think the doctors definitely give more personal attention here. Here the doctor's office is literally next door to the patient.
I'll be in Moscow till the end of July and I will also practice as a volunteer - I start that tomorrow and I am very excited.
I also plan to see the apheresis - when the donors donate stem cells. I've signed up for the bone marrow registry myself by the way - so I'll see how they separate blood components and I will shad in the operation hall.
It's hard to say right now what I want to concentrate on in the future. I shadowed in so many branches and that's how it works, you come to medical school interested in one thing. But then you start shadowing and understanding how it all works and that's when you make up your mind. I think oncology is very interesting, but also the pressure here is really high. For example some of the patients have very poor immune system and if they have fever you have to think really quick — their lives depend on it.
But you also help people survive - literally. And that is very inspiring.
We are super-proud that the hospital we support impressed Anton so much. It is our goal to help Russian children get the best medical care available, and help doctors exchange experience and get access to the latest research.
We thank all of our donors for their help.