Why I Volunteer with Maya Health: Forging Bonds

David-Flood (1)
David Flood, Medical Student Intern

Initially, I wanted to volunteer with Wuqu’ Kawoq – Maya Health Alliance because I desired more experience working in global health before I started a residency program, and I had heard great things about Wuqu’ Kawoq at my medical school. Before collaborating with Wuqu’ Kawoq, I’d been working on various health projects in Latin America for about 5 years. However, I hadn’t made a long-term commitment. More than anything, that’s what I achieved through my volunteer experience — the forging of bonds with staff, patients, and community members that has compelled me to work with Wuqu’ Kawoq beyond my original year-long commitment. The biggest surprise for me, as a person training to be a physician, had to do with what was similar and what was different about medical care in Guatemala and the U.S. What was the same was that in Guatemala, as in the U.S., you can get just about anything you want for your patient — medicines, vaccines, lab tests, complex surgeries — if you know where to look. What was different was how “particular” medical care here is, in the sense that a good provider needs to have a deep understanding of the country’s culture and medical system. I plan to start a combined residency in adult medicine and pediatrics in the summer of 2015. My time with Wuqu’ Kawoq reinforced my choice of this particular specialty, and I plan to continue collaborating with WK on nutrition and chronic disease projects over the coming years.