People living in villages across Tanzania do not have the same healthcare opportunities as people living in more urban environments – some of them may be 60 year-olds who have NEVER been to a doctor.

We therefore decided to hold a dispensary at the Arise School for people from the surrounding areas to come and use our facilities for free.

We worked in 4 teams: two initial stations where vital signs were taken from the patients and two consultation rooms.

Overall, I was satisfied with the work we did as a lot of people got to either deal with minor issues on the spot, get tested for malaria and blood sugar, receive medication for free and get referred to the hospital had they had more complex conditions that needed to be dealt with.

I think this was by far the most exhausting day of all during the month after having seen over 100 patients within 6 hours (and that was only half of the people seen, as another dispensary was later held by the members of the team who stayed in Tanzania for another 2 weeks).

And I know 100 is just a number for you and it is indeed hard to have the time to pay attention to little things when finding yourself in a chaotic situation of having to deal with so many people at once, and yet I am happy I made the time to communicate visually with the patients, since language was a communication barrier. I love reading peoples’ faces, trying to guess where they come from and what story they have to tell and share – I often feel as though I have the ability to listen to what someone has to say using my eyes.

I took good note of the way I approached the situation that day facing each patient as an individual and not merely a number, despite how easy it would be to go by option 2. After all, I will be facing similar situations on multiple occasions in my (hopefully) future career, so it was a useful training session for me, an inexperienced medical student.

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