From Elective Reviews - Bangladesh - LAMB, 2011 - Alice Self
I signed up with Interserve's fast track scheme for my elective in Spring 2011. I was due to visit the Women's Christian Hospital in Pakistan however days before departure received a final "No" to myVISA application. Therein lay the advantage of an elective with an organisation - Interserv immediately set about finding an alternative Hospital and I chose to spend 7 weeks in LAMB Hospital in North Western Bangladesh.
LAMB is located in a small village in between three fairly large cities so is effectively rural and yet has good road access and is of a moderate size providing 150 beds mostly for O&G and paediatric inpatients, however there are a considerable number of medical out patient clinics. There is also a disability unit, school and church on site and so many expats who aren't medically involved. The number of doctors is hugely variable depending on how many Bangladeshi doctors want to work there at one time or another and how well staffed they are by overseas doctors. At the time of my visit there were 3 western O&G doctors, 4 local O&G doctors, no real paediatricians but 5 or so inthe medical team with a further Bangladeshi doctor who performed minor surgery and is now training to be a surgeon. Visiting doctors come regularly for a few weeks to a few months at a time.I spent the majority of my time with the O&G team being pretty certain that I wanted a career in O&G and because the paediatric department had no specialists during my visit. Days started with either an antenatal or gynaecology ward round followed by post-natal reviews and then either clinics or theatres. I also got stuck in to a lot of deliveries on the labour suite and enjoyed time with the midwives there, learning some Bangla to encourage the birthing mothers!
I had a fantastic time being really well supervised by some skilled western doctors enjoying lots of hands-on experience of both deliveries and surgery. There were plenty of opportunities to suture and learn other surgical skills and many babies to deliver including a relatively high number of breeches. I saw far more pathology there than I ever would in a year in England with large molarpregnancies, eclampsia and advanced cancers to name but a few.And it was of course fascinating learning about a different culture and seeing how hospitals are run with more obviously finite resources.
The only real negative about my experience was the relative lack of things to do in Bangladesh, certainly without a travel buddy. It would be difficult to travel as a lone woman between there latively few tourist attractions on offer, although I was able to do a few things relatively locally with others working in the hospital compound. A trip in to India is not straight forward to organise but is certainly possible and recommended if you have time. For those with surgical inclinations thi swould not be a good choice for an elective unless one of the surgeons who visits from the USA was there at the same time. It is also best suited to someone who wants to stay in one place for the whole elective as they are currently unwilling to accept people for less than 6 weeks at a time. Despite this, I would still very much encourage people to consider LAMB for their elective as the medical experience is excellent and it provides a valuable insight in to the challenges of mission andhealthcare combined under one roof. It has made me think hard about what hospital setting I'd rather work in - governmental or mission.