Emma visited HVM in Mandritsara during July/August 2015. She writes:
I visited the team in Mandritsara for my medical elective at the end of my fourth year at medical school with a friend from university. During our placement we spent time admitting patients to the medical and surgical wards, attending daily ward rounds followed by outpatient clinics, assisting in theatre and joining the community health team visiting nearby villages. Day to day on the wards and in outpatient clinics we were encouraged to take patient histories, carry out examinations and start to consider further investigations and management plans. This was great for our learning and all cases were discussed with a doctor afterwards in a similar way to my placements at home. Matt Sherratt supervised our placements and arranged teaching sessions on common tropical medical conditions such as schistosomiasis. He also led bible studies for the students which helped us to consider some of the issues we might face as we continue our studies back in the UK. Each day there was a morning service with patients and staff at the hospital, and we were invited to join the missionary staff when they met for weekly bible studies and Sunday church services.
Not only were we welcomed into the hospital but the missionary staff living onsite ensured that we were very well looked after. This ranged from inviting us for meals, teaching us how to bleach our vegetables bought in the market, taking us for walks at the weekend and watching the children put on pirate puppet shows. This really helped us to feel settled in Mandritsara and I was surprised at how content I felt throughout my stay. Even after we left the hospital for a short holiday to the coast we remained in contact with the team on our phones until we were back in the capital ready for our flights home. It was great to know that we could contact them if we encountered any problems whilst travelling around the country.
The working language of the hospital is French and I would recommend any students thinking about an elective here to learn as much French as they can before they arrive. The team are really welcoming and will accept the level of French you have but the more you know the easier it is to communicate with the hospital staff. If you are a Christian medical student looking to spend your elective in a Christian hospital then I would definitely recommend considering visiting Mandritsara as you will learn lots of tropical medicine and witness some of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in a developing country as well as the many blessings!
If you are interested in going to Mandritsara, please click here to send a message to Dr Matt Sherratt.