From Elective Reviews - India - Christian Hospital Serkawn, 2012 - Anna Mason
Hospital Name: Christian Hospital Serkawn, Mizoram, NE India
Elective Period: April-May 2012
Hospital Details: Christian Hospital Serkawn is a mission hospital in the State of Mizoram in North-East India. It's a beautiful mountainous area between Bangladesh and Burma. The people speak tribal Mizo and English and pride themselves on how welcoming they are. Due to the arrival of British missionaries 100yrs ago, providing hospitals, churches and schools, it is now a predominantly Christian state. The hospital is now entirely run by local people and funded by patients and the local church. It is a 100 bed hospital with 7 full-time doctors which provides both primary and secondary healthcare to the local community. It has four main departments; medical, surgical, paediatrics and Obs and Gynae. It also runs a daily clinic in the nearby town, as well as occasional health outreach to distant villages or school check-ups. There is a nursing school attached to the hospital, with approximately 70 students, which provides a lively atmosphere around the hospital and plenty of opportunities for those who want to do some informal teaching. The hospital also helps run a local orphanage of about 20-30 children.
Average Day: The day starts with devotions at 9am with all the hospital staff. There is then the ward round; everyone sees the most seriously ill patients together and then it splits into surgical, medical, paeds and obstetric rounds. The rounds are usually very quick, leaving lots of time for other activities going on – this might be surgical lists, ultrasound, deliveries or outpatient clinics. These clinics are really good for general experience seeing anything from malaria to antenatal care or minor injuries. The day is usually finished by about 3-4pm but, as you stay right on hospital site, it is very easy to pop back in if any interesting emergency cases arrive in the evenings.
Good Points: The hospital was an ideal size – large enough that there was always enough to do, but small enough to allow you to get involved in anything that was going on. We were able to participate in many practical procedures you don't get a chance to do in the UK - assisting in surgery, using the ultrasound, delivering babies, splinting fractures etc. Everyone was unbelievably welcoming, always ready to help and they see it as a real privilege to be able to host elective students.
Bad Points: It is a remote part of India so the journey is pretty long – expect a few days travelling with flight changes in Delhi and Calcutta on the way there. There isn't much opportunity for travelling whilst on the placement, but we were so welcomed into the local village life that it wasn't ever boring. Recommend it? Definitely! If you are interested in experiencing healthcare in a low resource setting, see how your Christian faith can interact with medical practice and want to get involved in another culture then this is an ideal opportunity. They are so keen to have more students in the future so do seriously consider it and get in touch if you want more info.
Interesting Cases: It's a really good opportunity to see malaria, TB, HIV that we don't get much exposure to in the UK. I particularly appreciated the obstetrics experience, whereas others enjoyed the varied surgical lists - could include an amputation, an appendicectomy and a C section all in one morning! Cultural Experiences: We were really welcomed into community life and got to experience the local church, traditional food, school and orphanage visits, a dance and culture performance and even a local wedding!
Travelling Opportunities: Travelling opportunities are fairly limited in Mizoram itself, but it would be very easy to travel around mainland India on the way back. We had to change flights in Delhi and Calcutta during the journey so these would be ideal places to start.
What have I learnt? I have definitely learnt a lot of medicine - but what has been much more valuable has been experiencing another culture, being encouraged in my own faith by the people there and being challenged by the enthusiasm and skill of the doctors who work with far fewer resources than we have here. I feel extremely blessed to have had such a unique experience and to have met many lifelong friends.