a two-way street

The doctors here know things I don’t know, and vice versa. When was the last time I saw a case of rheumatic fever, or sickle cell, or congenital syphilis? (it’s the joke at Annotto Bay that Dr Ravi is the congenital syphilis expert because he’s had 4 cases this year to date). When did I last do the initial management of a kid with congenital heart disease ? (rural Tennessee, small hospital with level 1 nursery, 1980s). There are lots of things I know, up to date and evidence based. I hope I can offer some of them politely, with appropriate modifications for the local setting. And there are a lot of things they know, practical and hands-on and real-world, that I’m soaking up like a sponge! Dr. Ramos reminded me that just because mom nods her head and says yes when I give her a list of symptoms she should bring the baby back in for doesn’t mean she gets it. “This is a third world country!” he tells me. That doesn’t mean that medical literacy is widely distributed in other parts of the world, though — it behooves us all to make ourselves clear in language our patients understand. For another day, I have a lot to say, not about what’s lacking in low-resource countries, but about American medical bloat. Fortunately I’m between jobs and on sabbatical till September, so I don’t have to experience the reverse medical culture shock of jumping right back in to a US hospital setting. For the moment, I’ll just listen to the tree frogs before falling asleep.

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