Along with 2 other ER physicians, an anesthesiologist, 2 CRNAs, 15 surgeons, and 10 primary care physicians, we will be providing free medical consultation to approx 2500 patients, performing minor surgeries for approx 250 patients, and performing major surgeries for approx 120 patients over 5 days. We will also provide education for local medical providers in Bayambang, Pagasinan, Philippines.
Locals in this region, including patients and medical providers, will benefit from this. I think I will also personally benefit greatly from this, as I have never been involved in medical care outside of the US. Some of the other providers on this team are from the region and have previously been there pre-covid in 2019. One of them is a personal colleague in the ER where I work and introduced me to this trip.
We hope to care for a high volume of patients and hope that the education we provide will leave a lasting benefit. This would be my first medical mission trip and hopefully serve as inspiration and a foundation for future trips. I think this trip will also help me long term in gaining a different perspective in medicine and help ward off personal burnout as well.
Thanks, Doximity, for helping make this trip possible for me!
By numbers, I was told that in medical consultations we saw a total of 5282 patients, and we performed minor surgeries on 175 patients. The dental group treated 200 patients, and the major surgery group operated on 76 patients. I was able to spend time in both medical consultations and in minor surgery.
In medical consultations we just kept seeing patients. I think each of the physicians saw about 50-60 patients a day over there. I was very fortunate to have a translator with me, and we were all supported by a crew of very eager nursing students. Often it was frustrating to realize how little we were actually able to do for these people, as we only were able to talk to each of them for about 10 minutes and had a limited supply of medications and diagnostic tools. I tried to focus on education, but even that was difficult because there were so many barriers, definitely including financial barriers, but cultural barriers too. Unlike many patients I have encountered, though, none of these patients were demanding, none of them complained, none of them were impatient, and they all actually wanted to learn. Still, at the end of each day, I had never been so relieved to see my rows of empty chairs, signifying that my patients for the day had all been seen. I was glad to try to do what I can, but I often questioned how much of a difference it really made in the long run for them.
My time on the minor surgery side was very different from on the medical consultations side. This was a continuous stream of lipomas, cysts, and various skin lesions to be removed, and after spending a few days being frustrated by the limitations of the medical consultations side, it was quite satisfying to simply be able to complete tasks and literally cut out the problem placed in front of me. The conditions were less than ideal (power going out, sterility basically impossible to achieve, operating tables don't move at all, etc.), but the patients were very happy to leave their unwanted lumps and bumps behind.
Overall, I was surprised and impressed by the size and scope of this trip since there were multiple mission groups there working together. This was my first mission trip, but I met some physicians who have been doing mission trips for over 20 years in various locations around the world. Everyone was very welcoming, and I am thankful for their mentorship and look forward to working with them again in the future. Thanks again, Doximity!