I want to go back

Learning to provide outstanding patient care in all environments – a Canadian student’s time volunteering at AHC

Sandra Giangioppo has wanted to be a paediatrician since she was in high school. From her experiences as a swimming instructor throughout high school and her undergraduate studies, she knew she wanted to work with kids. As she continues through her education and training, she has really realized that pediatrics is a perfect fit for her.

She is now in her third year of paediatrics training at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Canada. Her hospital’s Global Health Coordinator, who had previously volunteered at AHC, recommended AHC as a great place to volunteer. In hearing about the positive experiences at AHC and feeling impressed by the hospital’s range of services, she felt it was a “good fit” for her interests. So she applied for a general paediatrics position and arrived in Siem Reap in November to begin a one-month volunteer assignment.

Sandra worked primarily in the Inpatient and Outpatient Departments. She went to morning rounds, took patients histories, performed physical exams, reviewed imaging and lab tests and helped make management plans. She was also involved in teaching the AHC residents and medical students, and helped residents prepare for journal club, a group that meets to discuss research studies from medical journals.

Sandra’s time at AHC was her first time working in a hospital outside of Canada. She described AHC as a very positive environment, where everyone worked well together. The staff were incredibly friendly and always smiling, which made it a great place to work. She said she felt welcomed immediately and that despite being very far from home, she felt like she had a place at AHC. It was also interesting for her to see medical conditions she wouldn’t often see in Canada, like Dengue Fever and severe malnutrition.

She said there were fewer resources compared to back home, but this didn’t stop doctors from providing outstanding patient care. She learned a lot from the residents during her time at AHC, including how to manage patients with conditions she does not see often at home and to reduce her reliance on extra tests by focusing on patient histories and physical exams.

Another project Sandra was involved in at AHC was the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon fundraiser. She ran the marathon and set up a fundraising page with a goal of $500, but ended up raising over double that amount.

Sandra was hoping to work at a children’s hospital that was making a meaningful impact on the healthcare of children in a resource limited country. She feels like AHC was the perfect place. She says she learned so much during her time in Siem Reap, from the AHC staff and from patients and their families. She plans to come back to AHC in the future when she is further in her training and has even more to share. Thank you, Sandra!

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