For the past two weeks I’ve spent my days in the ER, General Internal Medicine, and Neurology departments at UMC learning how to examine patients, discern pathologies, and execute protocols when a new patient is admitted to the hospital or visiting the office. Although I’ve seen a dense variety of diseases, the majority of cases are of liver cirrohsis, due to prevalent excessive alcohol consumption and Asian people’s increased risk for Hepatitis B. I’ve begun to recognize its tell-tale signs – englarged and hardened belly, reddening of the edges of the palms, “spidery” or star-like red marks on the chest, and sometimes jaundice. My favorite moments are when I can examine the patients myself. My mentors guide me in asking about the patient’s history and lifestyle, looking for visual clues, testing reflexes and pain, feeling for abnormal shapes/growths, and distinguishing between normal and abnormal sounds of the body. Learning the basics of clinical examinations and being able to recognize the most common pathologies in Vietnam were my two top goals when beginning this internship; I look forward to practicing these skills every day. I feel more confident examining a patient now, and although I usually can not make a diagnosis, I can acquire plenty of information on the patient- and this is the first crucial step. To my own surprise, I’ve also been trained to do ultrasounds and take blood for testing. There is, as I expected, a special satisfaction in helping a person improve their welfare, even if I only play the smallest part. It’s this that I am most proud of.
I hope it is not too long before I will be performing these procedures on my own.