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 about an interview with one of our current volunteers, Luisalys.
Who are you and how long have you been volunteering with GUIMEDIC?
My name is Luisalys E. Panelli Mandés and I am a second-year medical student from Puerto Rico. I started in the GUIMEDIC association in September 2019.
How has your experience working with GUIMEDIC been overall?
My experience at GUIMEDIC is amazing! I have participated in many brigades and even if I go to the same place the experience is completely different. It is a great opportunity to empathize with that community, learn about its culture, and improve skills as a future physician.
Is there something that you experienced while working with GUIMEDIC that you did not expect?
Since I was in Puerto Rico, I understood that in Mexico there is a great amount of poverty, but I did not realize the magnification of this until I participated in the brigades. I was very astonished by the limited access to medicines, the misinformation, the lack of the hospitals, and the scarce resources that these communities have. However, the service that GUIMEDIC offers to the neediest people is the best.
Which clinical skills have you most improved on since working with GUIMEDIC?
By participating in any brigade, at least one clinical skill will be learned. Working with GUIMEDIC I improved how to feel compassion and empathy towards the patient, my communication skills between doctor-patient and doctor-doctor, the importance of working as a team, having a positive attitude… how to do a complete physical examination, how to identify the pathology and know the medical terminology, and especially respect… respect towards patients, towards my co-workers and the community that we visit while doing medicine.
Is there any fear or insecurity that you overcame working with GUIMEDIC?
Working with GUIMEDIC I improved my self-confidence and communication with patients and colleagues in the brigades.
What is one memory that has impacted you the most working with GUIMEDIC?
One of the memories that impacted me was the first time in a brigade to Aguascalientes. I was assigned a table with my partner and we worked together as a team attending adults. However, in the afternoon we started treating pediatric cases. There was a girl who had otitis, so I gave her an antibiotic for treatment and then she went home. After 30 minutes, she returned with her grandmother who asked why she needed this medication. I didn't recognize the girl, but when we found her medical history, I realized that I was her doctor earlier that day. At that moment I felt horrible because I did not recognize a patient of mine. As a doctor, it is very important to remember each patient that you see that day because we must show respect to the patient, even if the patient is a child.
How do you think working with GUIMEDIC will help you in the future outside of your professional career?
It helps you grow both in your personal life and in your professional career, guiding and advising you on values, principles, knowledge, confidence in yourself and in our colleagues, and above all gratitude for serving others.
What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering with GUIMEDIC in the future?
I highly recommend GUIMEDIC to anyone who wants to volunteer in any way. For anyone who is interested in knowing, helping, sharing with others, GUIMEDIC is your opportunity. In addition to offering medical service to patients, GUIMEDIC also offers other support; educating them, working with children, and above all loving each community that is visited in Mexico. It is surprising how helping others as a person is also enriched by humanitarian organizations like GUIMEDIC.
We are thankful for Luisalys for sharing her story, if you want to hear more stories like this, each week on our GUIMEDIC official Instagram page we post a #VolunteerViernes were 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 (titled “Guimedic Brigade Guide”) made just for this purpose.