Central College News

Featured: A Medical Adventure

January 31, 2014
Gap Medics

Senior Rachel Connelly (front, center) job-shadowed in obstetrics and gynecology at a public hospital during her first week with Gap Medics.

Seniors Mycaela Crouse and Rachel Connelly were ready for an adventure. It all began after learning about Gap Medics—an organization that allows college students to job-shadow medical professionals in Tanzania, the Czech Republic or Thailand.

Mycaela (right) and Rachel's (left) time in Thailand wasn't all work and no play. They were able to visit many sites around Thailand.

Mycaela (left) and Rachel’s (right) time in Thailand wasn’t all work and no play. They were able to visit many sites around Thailand.

The good friends were excited by the idea of traveling while getting hands-on work experience.

“We decided on Thailand since it was so different from any place either one of us had traveled before,” says Crouse. “I’d been to the Czech Republic and Rachel had been to Tanzania, so Thailand seemed like the obvious choice.”

Crouse and Connelly spent two weeks abroad last August learning everything they could from experienced doctors. Crouse, a biology major with chemistry and writing minors, spent her first week in a psychiatric hospital working with drug and alcohol rehabilitation patients as well as people suffering from schizophrenia and depression. Her second week was spent working at a leprosy colony, which counted as one of her most interesting, yet difficult, experiences of the trip.

“It was an incredibly fascinating experience, and I learned a lot,” says Crouse, “but it was also challenging to see the devastating effects of leprosy.”

Rachel holds a newborn baby while working in obstetrics and gynecology with local doctors.

Rachel holds a newborn baby while working in obstetrics and gynecology with local doctors.

Connelly, a double major in biology and biochemistry and double minor in religion and psychology, spent the first week of the trip working in obstetrics and gynecology at a public hospital. She worked with pregnant women and newborn children. During her last week, Connelly helped in general medicine working in an emergency room, lab, pharmacy, ICU and several other areas of a hospital.

“I really enjoyed getting the variety of experiences,” says Connelly. “It’s difficult to find hours job shadowing doctors in the U.S., so it was nice to be able to get the time in overseas.”

It’s no surprise that the experience was eye opening, but one thing came into clear focus: Their Central education prepared them well to take on advanced tasks.

“Sometimes,” explains Connelly, “the doctors would tell us things expecting that we’d know what they were talking about. I was able to understand a lot of it, because I had taken high-level science classes like microbiology at Central. Some of the students weren’t as prepared, and I would try to fill in the gaps.”

Since returning from Thailand, Connelly and Crouse are preparing for graduation in May. Connelly isn’t sure yet what area of medicine she would like to pursue after Central, but she wants to combine her interest in research and the brain with working with the elderly or children. Crouse intends to go into dermatology and says her trip to Thailand has focused her future career.

“I might look more closely at practicing medicine abroad,” says Crouse. “Doing my job while I’m traveling to different countries—it’d be the best of both worlds!”