Bairo Pite Clinic is a constant hive of activity. Medical students play a core role in the day to day functioning of the clinic - clerking, taking patients to specialist appointments, acquiring radiographic images, researching treatment options, taking samples for staining, and the odd minor procedure. You quickly take on responsibilities you would never consider back home.
Our clinical skills have improved dramatically over the past few weeks, and our knowledge of pathology is rapidly improving. TB is constantly apparent, as are a number of diseases that are rarely encountered back home, such as leprosy, kwashiorkor, dermoid cysts, and a wide array of skin infections.
Meanwhile in maternity, a woman gave birth to her first child during a huge tropical storm, which resulted in her house flooding to the base of her bed. One of Bairo Pite's midwives had to deliver the child whilst waist deep in water.
Learning the local dialect Tetun makes a big difference to overcoming the language barrier that is ever present - Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, English, and various local languages all make an appearance and result in some very creative charades.
Not only are the local people friendly and welcoming, the expat community are incredibly supportive and will invite you to all sorts of social events, drive you anywhere when the cabs go home for the night, and make sure you have experienced the best of Timor-Leste.
This opportunity has helped me take initiative and be bold in the clinical setting. Dr Dan is a constant source of inspiration, showing you what is truly possibly with a medical degree. It has been a fantastic placement and I can't wait to take the lessons learned here and apply them to my future practice.
By Angus Crombie