Patricia Dillawn, completing a BDP certificate in Social Inequality, Health & Policy, served as a Unite for Sight Global Impact Fellow, working in rural eye clinics around Accra, Ghana. She learned about how collaborations between health non-profits and the healthcare systems of third world countries can provide socially responsible, high quality, cost-effective care.
How did you find your internship?
I received a recommendation from a friend who had previously participated in Unite for Sight’s Global Impact Corps program in India. (Unite for Sight has three locations to choose from – Ghana, India, and Honduras)
Describe the work you did in your internship.
Every week, I and a few other fellows would travel with an eye care team from one of four Ghanaian eye clinics to remote villages around Accra and Kumasi, Ghana, to set up pop-up eye clinics. Within the clinics, I took patient history, tested visual acuity, observed optometrist examinations, and distributed medication and eyeglasses. I worked directly with Ghanaian healthcare workers, optometrists, and ophthalmologic nurses. I also observed as well as charted cataract/pterygium eye surgeries.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
My internship gave me the unique opportunity to experience healthcare in a developing country and work with the healthcare professionals who administer it. I was able to witness first-hand how NGOs like Unite for Sight can partner with local health clinics to promote sustainable growth and penetrate barriers to healthcare. The Ghanaian people were also a joy to serve. I will never forget the abundant gratitude I received from our patients nor the companionship I formed with the eye-care staff.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This trip reaffirmed my commitment to becoming a doctor and eventually working in the developing world, providing healthcare for those without. I also gained a new and profound interest in ophthalmology in particular, a field of medicine in which I had never considered before.
Discuss the relationship you had with your faculty mentor and how they helped you during this Connecting Experience.
Dr. Garcia was wonderful. We connected a few times over the semester prior to my trip and emailed back and forth while I was in Africa. She was responsive, asked me thought-provoking questions, and gave me great feedback. I loved talking with her about global health – she is very knowledgeable about the subject.