From Elective Reviews - India - Duncan Hospital, Bihar, India, 2013 - Philippa Wright
For my elective I worked 6 of 7 days.
Daily routine: 7.45 Doctors meeting
8.30 Hindi church (sometimes in English)
Bible studies etc in the evening
On sunday there are two church services (in Hindi)
Rotated around obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, family medicine, endocrinology clinic, ITU, surgery (a little), Accident and Emergency (a little) and spent some time in the community.
Stayed in Western guesthouse - good - real loo! Food ok, some internet, a phone for family to call you if needed. Only two other white missionaries from New Zealand and Australia; rest of doctors Indian. Everyone really welcoming and encouraging. More observing than hands-on due to huge numbers of patients and everything in Hindi. Help in surgery - get to help with basics. More help in data analysation/teaching and encouraging other F1s.
The hospital is in a poor area where there is a huge disease burden, very different culture and poverty. It is a real experience of something very different from England. I learnt lots. People were lovely, accommodation very good considering the area. As a girl going alone I couldn't leave the hospital campus alone (where the accommodation was) and with everyone busy with work I wasn't able to leave area that often - lonely, isolating. Another negative is that I got ill a lot; parasites, the whole bag! Heat was extreme - have to learn to shower often and go to bed damp with the heat etc. If going alone you are unable to travel a lot and I was unable to cross in to Nepal due to visa problems.
This elective would be suitable for someone who wants lots of medical variety, a medical-focussed elective and not a holiday. You need to be ready to serve in whatever way possible, even if not hands on. If you go with other people it makes travel much easier. Can only wear Indian, conservative clothes at all times so you must be happy with that. There are very few local places to visit except Indian (open front) shops nearby where you can get most things.
Things I wish I'd known beforehand/tips:
- Take more than two credit cards. I took two and Halifax sent me a new one which cancelled the old one - I scraped by (just!).
- Take spare rupees. There is an ATM but it is hard to get to.
- Take lots of mosquito repellant.
- Take laptop, DVD's (to stay sane!), plug adapter and thing that deals with electrical fluctuations to protect computer.
- Spend more time in Patna doing Interserve training before going to Bihar - you get to learn lots, buy clothes that you won't have time to get once you reach the hospital, meet others (one close friend I met there who I later on got to see when leaving Delhi) - and that's one of the best bits!
- Go with others - otherwise you won't get out much
- Spend time in Delhi on way out - fascinating place, but don't travel alone if female.
My elective cost approximately £2500 and I organised it through Interserve.