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My Reflection: A Chief Resident Experience on Global Engagement in Nicaragua

Hospital operating room | Nicaraguan medical mission trip

Dustin Richter, MD, PGY-V Orthopaedic Surgery Resident

Dustin Richter, MD and group | Nicaraguan medical mission tripParticipating in a weeklong global health away elective to Nicaragua as part of the Milwaukee Orthopaedics Overseas program, a long-term partner of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, proved to be not only an honor but a transformative experiential educational experience as well. It left an indelible mark on my character. The time spent in Managua, the country's capital, afforded me the opportunity to work alongside local orthopedic surgeons who exemplified unparalleled kindness and resourcefulness. Their dedication to providing quality healthcare in the face of limited resources was truly inspiring. Witnessing their commitment to their patients, despite the challenges, instilled in me a profound sense of humility and a renewed appreciation for the resilience of the human spirit. Engaging with these local healthcare professionals enriched my character by fostering a deeper understanding of compassion and adaptability in the field of medicine.

In addition to character development, this global engagement significantly enhanced my medical competency through hands-on experience in another resource-poor setting. Immersed in the rural hospital in Jinotepe, I encountered a myriad of medical cases that challenged my problem-solving skills and adaptability. The scarcity of resources prompted creative and innovative approaches to patient care, honing my ability to navigate challenges with limited tools and technology. This experience not only broadened my medical knowledge but also underscored the importance of adaptability and critical thinking, vital skills in any medical professional's repertoire.

Nicaraguan hospital | Nicaraguan medical mission tripThis global engagement not only shaped my character and improved my medical competence but also greatly enhanced my ability to care for a diverse patient population. Interacting with the Nicaraguan people revealed their remarkable pride in their country and their commitment to caring for their children despite limited resources. Witnessing their resilience and resourcefulness in providing for their families emphasized the importance of cultural competence and sensitivity in healthcare. The experience broadened my perspective on patient care, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach that considers cultural nuances and social determinants of health. This newfound appreciation for diversity and the human spirit further reinforced my commitment to providing compassionate and culturally competent care in my future medical practice.

Hospital waiting room | Nicaraguan medical mission tripIn conclusion, this experiential education in Nicaragua was a multifaceted opportunity that enriched my character, improved my medical competency, and enhanced my ability to care for a diverse patient population. The invaluable lessons learned from the kind and resourceful local orthopedic surgeons in Managua, the hands-on experience in a rural hospital in Jinotepe, and the interactions with the proud Nicaraguan people collectively contributed to my growth as a compassionate and culturally competent healthcare professional. This transformative experience will undoubtedly shape my approach to medicine, guiding my future practice with a deepened sense of empathy, adaptability, and respect for the diverse backgrounds as a future global surgeon.

Funding to support global away rotations for graduate medical education is provided by the MCW Office of Global Health from a gift of the Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery also provided Dr. Richter additional support.