This blog is a part of a series. Check out our other Volunteer Experience blogs for more!
In 2010, GUIMEDIC started with one doctor traveling to remote places with a backpack full of medical supplies. Since then, over 1,200 volunteers have worked with GUIMEDIC and helped it become what it is today. Volunteers are an absolutely necessary part of the work done through this organization, as its main outreach projects are carried out via mobile clinics where groups of volunteer medical students and doctors travel by van, boat, foot, or small airplane to reach remote places where there is no doctor. Being in a country where medical students are allowed to assist consultations under the supervision and assistance of doctors is what allows GUIMEDIC to continue to expand and create the impact that is does. Because medical students are eager to get started with hands-on experiences and are also under the pressure of applying to competitive specialties, they tend to be extremely enthusiastic about being involved in GUIMEDIC brigades. In fact, we see that every week as brigade opportunities are posted, spots are full in mere minutes. We are grateful to have a group of eager medical student volunteers available to us and are always accepting more volunteers to join our group. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and want to know what its like, this blog post is for you.
Continue along to read our interview with current volunteer, Guillermo.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you've been working with GUIMEDIC.
My name is Guillermo Gómez, and I’m a third-year medical student from Puerto Rico. I have been volunteering for GUIMEDIC almost a year.
How has your experience working with GUIMEDIC been overall?
My experience with GUIMEDIC has been overall one of growth in every area of my life, from my medical career to my spiritual formation. It has given me purpose in my career, redirecting my focus as a Doctor to a social and compassionate one.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned with Guimedic so far?
It is impossible not to grow as a person while working with GUIMEDIC. I have grown stronger in my values, spirituality, knowledge, and in purpose and calling as a Doctor, but the most valuable thing I have learned is to be compassionate and empathetic.
What is one memory that has impacted you the most working with GUIMEDIC?
The first medical brigade I went on change my perspective of life. I always thought “If someone is poor, it's because of them, they are responsible.” Looking back, I realize now that I had no compassion. When I arrived to the GUIMEDIC communities, I saw first-hand that poverty is real and that not everyone has the same opportunities in life, as I once thought.
In my time working with GUIMEDIC I have developed a sense of responsibility to give my medical career a more social purpose. I recognize that there are people that are socially marginalized, without access to opportunities, quality education, or medical resources. If we don’t do anything to help, no one will.
Is there something that you experienced while working with GUIMEDIC that you did not expect?
When I started working with GUIMEDIC I felt that I was working on my calling, and that gave this inner fulfillment that is unexplainable. Now, I truly believe that my choice to become a Doctor was God’s plan for me.
Which clinical skills have you most improved on since working with GUIMEDIC?
GUIMEDIC has helped me to be more secure on all basic clinical knowledge. With the long hours of practice and repeating the same procedures numerous times, I significantly improved in giving full physical exams, from oral and ear examinations, to heart, lungs, and abdominal examinations.
Is there any fear or insecurity that you overcame working with GUIMEDIC?
I’m more confident in myself. I can recall wondering if I was going to like the experience or not, and if I was going to learn or not. In the end, it has been a great experience to work with my GUIMEDIC colleagues, and my time has been full of learning and impactful life experiences.
How do you think working with GUIMEDIC will help you in the future outside of your professional career?
Through my experience with GUIMEDIC, I learned that the calling of a Doctor is one to serve without expecting anything back. Beyond my professional career, this experience helped me put into perspective how blessed I am with the social services of my country. It makes me appreciate that people have the same access to health care in every part of my country, and in every social class.
What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering with GUIMEDIC in the future?
I think GUIMEDIC is the perfect opportunity to learn about being a real doctor and the importance this profession can have on the wellbeing of our communities. This experience gives you a humanitarian vision about the medical field, which I believe has been lost due to all the luxury life that is “promises” to people who study medicine.
Also, as a student you have the opportunity to put into practice everything you've learned. It connects you to colleagues, gives you a circle of support, and a family.
I’m very happy to be part of GUIMEDIC, it has changed my life in so many ways - through experiences, through mentorship, and in helping me reaffirm my calling. I couldn’t be more grateful.
We are thankful for Guillermo for sharing their story, if you want to hear more stories like this, each week on our GUIMEDIC official Instagram page we post a #VolunteerViernes where volunteers share information about their experiences with GUIMEDIC. You can find us @Guimedic_Mx.
To learn more about how brigades work and how to get involved in one, you can look through the following PDF document made just for this purpose.