It feels kind of unbelievable, but this is the last blog entry. On the one hand, it seems such a short time that we have been here, but on the other, the things that happened during the first few days seem very far behind us.
We gave our students their final exam in pediatric anesthesia today. As Christina mentioned earlier, we included a number of actual board study questions from UVA in the quiz, and they found it quite difficult. After they had taken the test, we went through all the questions again, with the students divided into two groups, Jeopardy style. This, they found way more entertaining.
We have come to know the students quite well during our time here. It has been pretty close contact, and a pretty intense schedule: a lecture and a case discussion every day, for three weeks in a row. It hasn’t always been easy for them since we have no interest in dumbing things down. But they did well, and really opened up along the way. This last week in particular has been excellent, with really good questions from them, extended discussions within the group, disagreements on anesthetic approaches that at times took quite a while to argue out – great learning opportunities for everyone. Most importantly, maybe, they were definitely no longer afraid to disagree with us, and to let us know if they felt we were wrong. And we have been very happy with that level of openness.
We said goodbye to Cyril Goddia, who heads the Anesthesia Clinical Officer program, and who has been an amazing host, surprising us every time with his thoughtfulness: from buying food at our arrival so we would have something to eat, to arranging for a car and driver from the College of Medicine to get us to and from the hospital every day – a great thing in the rainy season. We went out to lunch at an Indian restaurant with him today.
Also, we took leave of Gregor Pollack, the head of the anesthesia department at Queens, and Kai Jung, head of the ICU – the two German physicians who work here long-term. Both have been excellent guides to us in understanding the system here. And we owe Kai a great deal for sharing his coffee with us each morning, and for letting us be part of the ICU. Yesterday, the four of us ate lunch at the Beit Cure hospital café, where we had their excellent chocolate cake one more time.
We can’t say goodbye to our friend Ed , the dog. Somehow, halfway through our stay, he stopped coming upstairs and sleeping at our door – no idea why. We still see him on occasion around the apartment complex, but he hasn’t been up to see us anymore… Despite the cookies we bought for him.
And now it’s time to pack. We have a few days left in the country. Tomorrow we’ll be driven to Cape Maclear, on the shores of Lake Malawi, where we’ll hang out a few days to recover from the busy life of the past month. Then it’s back in Lilongwe, and back to the US. It has been a good month, but it’s a long time to be away, and we’re both definitely looking forward to seeing our significant others and friends again!
Yes, it has been a good month. As always, there are things that I will miss, and things that I will not. Things that will not be missed: irregularly irregular power and water outages, on occasion associated with flooding of the apartment; too-high-speed driving along dark country roads full of trucks, people and goats; randomly appearing trash heaps around the apartment complex. Things that will be missed: the students; Malawi Satemwa coffee from the French press coffeemaker that Christina brought all the way over here; Tennis cookies with Pralinutta (kind of like Nutella); elephants in the rain; morning coffee and discussions with Kai; trying to do a lecture in mime during a tropical downpour on the metal roof.
Since our work is done, we’ll close the blog here. Thanks to everyone for following our stories! It is a really good feeling to know that we’re not doing a trip like this on our own.
The next blog to chronicle a trip from our department is already set up! Mohamed Tiouririne and Albert Ardon will be teaching in Rwanda during the month of March, in a program run jointly by the Canadian Anesthesiologists Society and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Their blog is at http://alandmoinrwanda.wordpress.com/
Once again, thank you for following, and we look forward to seeing all of you again once we’re back in the States.
Marcel & Christina
PS: There’s a gallery of trip pictures here