On Monday we had an anatomy class in the Córdoba anatomy museum with all of the other medical volunteers. Some medical students from the local university showed us round and took us through a dissection of a lady and showed us how they preserve the dead bodies for scientific use using the different chemicals available. I loved seeing the human organs instead of looking at photos and we all got to feel around in the body and work out where everything was in relation to each other. (putting the anatomy lesson to use!) I forgot how much fun it was having boys as well as girls in a class (I go to a girls school) as me and the other girls were soon the target of practical jokes with bodily fluids spitting out violently from the body and being shut in the freezer where the dead bodies were.We were shown the ‘pools’ where they keep some of the bodies in the morgue. (An extremely freaky place) I was just glad I didn’t have to stay the night there, as some of them looked freakishly like they were sleeping and ready to pounce!!!
I was in surgery again today and from the staff there I learnt a few interesting facts about Argentinean life-
·The average doctor earns around £10,000 a year (extremely little even in Argentina)
·Nurses earn more than surgeons
·The doctors have to give strong painkillers and have to use injections to fight strong infections during surgery as they know the patients cannot afford prescriptions and so will suffer later and be readmitted.
·As abortions are illegal, there are thousands of orphaned babies every year born to teenage mothers who simply cannot afford to keep their child. So they get dumped after birth.
·Bus drivers and shop assistants earn a lot more than all of the staff in the hospital
However, the doctors still study for the same difficulty of exams and spend the same amount of time in med school/specialising as we do. Simply without earning all of the money/having the respect of the public like is the case in England. Basically they have to really love medicine more than anything else in the world!
This made me think-
If that was the situation I was put in, would I still want to be a doctor? Wouldn’t being a bus driver be a more attractive prospect? Is all that studying really worth it for a job?
I have come to the conclusion it is through talking to the surgeons today and seeing the difference to the lives of the patients they treated. The surgery today was all about cancerous cists and I saw the procedures that they use to do this. It was extremely interesting and fairly amazing to see what these infections actually look like and how the patient’s lives will be changed from a few hours in surgery.
I also saw how un-important today’s technology is in medicine, because as a surgeon explained to me, the images and fancy tools make life easier and sometimes make the experience faster but clinical examination should be relied on for all your important information. This was shown today by the cists, as although they had some vague dark images of the cist, by doing an examination the doctors didn’t need the images to determine what needed to be done. So really although the fancy equipment is fun, it is certainly not a necessity and it made me wonder whether our doctors would be so quick to adapt to the lack of resources here, whether they could do the job simply based on the patient in front of them.
I like to think they would but I suppose most of them would never have to test this out!