International Medical Education

Student Experiences

Post Card Notes

Postcard graphic
The knowledge I have gained from living & working with people from different cultures has given me a better understanding of people I will serve, both as a medical student and as a doctor." Dana Weintraub, Class of '97

The time I spent in rural Central America was eye-opening. Although the people are poor in material terms, they are rich in heritage and culture. They see the future in terms of many generations and have a patient outlook on change. I think the lessons I learned in my two month international experience will help me as a person and as a physician. It gave me a greater respect for other people's homelands and a new understanding of the role of patience in bringing aboutpositive change.
Suniti Kumar, Class of '97

the bus

The whole experience made me sympathize with foreigners, who barely speak the language, being confused and often taken advantage of. We had done our best to get on a bus to Ingapirca, but we had failed. Of course, we should have looked at the ticket, but we both felt so sure we knew when the bus left, and I didn't know to check the number on the ticket - we had never done that before. I felt like if only I could explain clearly what had happened, maybe we could have talked our way out of paying again and ride this bus north (it was going near the ruins). But I couldn't - I had only a few halting words. I caught a glilmpse of what it must be like to only speak Spanish in the U.S.

Richard Van Rhoads, Class of '2000

I never realized how frustrating a telephone system could be! The next morning I went straight to the school and left a few messages since I was able to use a calling card. Still no contact - I was in tears. It really hit me how isolating and powerless one could feel in another system's culture.

Christine Gates, Class of 2000

I spent the summer between my first and second year working in a rural clinic in Zumbahua, Ecuador. I very much wanted to work in an area that specifically served the indigenous population of Ecuador and hoped that the experience might better define my career goals. It undoubtedly did. I saw how rewarding Primary Care can be and decided to go into this field and work with the underserved.

Julie McCole - Class if 1997

After a year of being a medical school 'fact sponge', it was fantastic to do tangible, rewarding work in another culture and see the impact of that work unfold before me. Integrating myself into Ecuadorian life was challenging but deeply gratifying. I am even more sure of the direction I'm heading as a future physician.

Ethan Brackett, Class of '99


Living abroad, I learn about languages and cultures different than my own which helps increase my understanding of many diverse people in this country. In addition, through living abroad, I am immersed in a similar situation to that which many of my patients face in this country. Most medically underserved patients have overcome great obstacles to survive, much greater than any I have had to overcome in my life so far. By leaving all my material posessions and family and friends and travelling abroad, I learn to better appreciate many of the struggles of being in a foreign country. Finally, while I had taken many Spanish courses in the U.S., it was not until I lived with an Honduran family and volunteered in an Honduran health clinic, that my Spanish became proficient enough to comfortably converse.

Dana Weintraub - Class of 1998

The Doctor

I planned an extended fourth year of medicine and traveled to South America. As "the doctor" sent to poor, underserved areas, I gained a sense of independence and medical improvisation that I had not achieved while studying in the United States. I also became keenly aware of the knowledge and training that I still must acquire to be completely comfortable as a sole physician in a rural community. Now, back at the University of Massachusetts, I feel a renewed sense of excitement about Family Medicine.

Debby Kylander,Class of 1998

I like the people very much but feel very much out of it because I can't understand the rapid mumbled speech that they use with each other. It's difficult to feel left out - that experience - and the feeling I had when I first got to this house - make me understand how a new immigrant must feel - similar except that I know I'll go home after six weeks.

Priscilla Carr - Class of 2000

...Living and working in a developing countrygave me a better outlook as to how to approach poverty-related problems in my own country"

Carla Vaccaro, Class of '97