Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Friday, August 3, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Operation FIRST has now been absorbed into the PPSC Surgery Center in Phnom Penh which also delivers free surgery to the poor, and is directed again by the hugely experienced maxillofacial and rehabilitative surgeon Dr Nous Sarom (www.cambodiasurgery.info) .
Medical electives will now me more structured with their base being at PPSC but with the option to spend time (if available) at the Rose Sight Centre (eye surgery, optometry), and the Rose Cambodia Rehab Centre (physio-therapy, pain-clinic etc). Other centres may be available by special arrangement ie pediatrics, infectious disease etc, but the main focus is rehabilatitve medicine and surgery (including eye surgery)
There may be opportunity for community visits ie eye, or physio-therapy village screening visits
As previously the electives are best suited to those interested equally in the cultural experience and health care in a uniquely fascinating part of the world. Students with initiative to take opportunities will tend to gain more as usually a little bit of effort in communication goes a long way.
Both Dr Nous Sarom and Dr Hang Vra (ophthalmic surgery) are highly acclaimed surgeons with international as well as considerable local experience (huge case numbers). The range of pathologies also seen in Cambodia can be quite astounding.
There will be a weekly administration charge ($US 90 ) which will go to help the project work and support of the elective staff. Accommodation can also be arranged (at a discount) if needed with cost depending on the quality required.
Students should apply early. In order to make sure that students have a enjoyable and interesting elective, numbers are limited to around 4 at a given time and some months (usually northern hemisphere summer) are usually in fairly high demand !
Please watch this blog for more details. Applications should be addressed to RoseHQ@aol.com
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Cambodia as a country is amazing, it is full of the friendliest people I think I’ve ever met; everybody is keen to help you and make you feel welcome. This was no different at Rose Rehabilitation centre in Takhmao. It was a slightly awkward moto journey arriving there from Phnom Penh (capital city) but all the angst quickly disappeared once I saw Joanna, Sophak, Rith and the rest of the team. They were extremely welcoming, friendly and inclusive; even when there were no medical issues for me to be getting on with – Joanna always invited me to visit the rehab patients in the community to take histories, examine them etc and even teach me. She (and the rest of the team) answered my questions; always allowing time for me. It was truly extraordinary to see the healthcare running successfully with limited resources and the variety of patients that Rose Rehabilitation deal with; the immense clinical signs really tested my (limited!) medical knowledge and allowed me to see the aftercare involved in a surgical patient – something I rarely see in hospitals back at home. This was such a great opportunity to really test my clinical skills too and offer some medical tips back to the team.
I have to stress though that this is not always the case for visiting medical students – it just so happened that my visit coincided with Dr. Sarom’s (the head surgeon) visit to Australia and so I was only able to spend about a week with him. I had applied for this elective because I am highly interested in surgery and did get to see some cool cleft palate repairs, plastics and grafts but never got a chance to assist unfortunately as I believe Dr. Sarom was training a Khmer doctor at that time.
It was lucky for me that I have a keen interest in ophthalmology and so I split my time between takhmao (Rose Rehabilitation) and the eye clinic (based in Phnom penh) where I sat in the clinics for the morning and then assisted – that’s right – ASSISTED in ophthalmology surgery in the afternoons! The eye centre is run by Dr. Vra (who predominantly performs cataract surgery) and his Ukrainian wife – Dr. Natalie (oculoplasty etc) – the rest of the team are lovely however, language is a major problem. If, by chance, you speak Russian or Khmer – then great! You will be fine – but if however, you only speak English – it makes life somewhat interesting.... Of course you pick up little things here and there but you can’t really run the clinic or ask the patients much yourself – without a translator. I was lucky that Dr. Natalie was so keen to teach and wrote everything in English. She was also very eager for me to practise my surgical skills and although I’m sure I was the local attraction/entertainment at the clinic – her teaching was invaluable. The very first day there, she made me do an interrupted suture with tiny thread on a blepharoplasty . It soon progressed to me doing complete operations on my own – supervised of course. If you’re keen or even interested in ophthalmological surgery – this is the place to be, there is nowhere in England that you will get such experience at our level – it is impossible so I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had to complete my elective here. However, if you are squeamish, then I suggest maybe just attending morning clinic (start at 8am-12pm) as all the patients are under local anaesthetic only for their surgeries!
Bits of advice/ things I wish I’d known before I came:
- Bring your own scrubs especially for eye clinic and id suggest taking your own crocs too but they all wear flip flops.
- If you can get sterile hats then bring them too.
- I’d suggest staying in Phnom Penh – purely as there’s so much more to do there, and it really caters for westerners. I stayed in Europe Guesthouse on Street 136, which had the perfect location and was run by the loveliest family!
- Take a book with you to read if you’re spending time in Takhmao as everything runs on “Cambodian Standard Timing” and you do end up waiting around for patients etc. There is a medical ward there but the doctors speak only Khmer or French. Dr. Sarom is excellent and speaks good English however.
- Getting to Takhmao – if you can arrange for the directions to be written in Khmer and find yourself a nice tuk tuk driver that will do you a deal – take it! I went with a friend of mine (Physio volunteer) from Phnom Penh via tuk tuk there and back and it came to $7 a day but I’m sure it can be done cheaper.
- At the eye clinic – there is a nice canteen around the back where doctors and other volunteers from the opposite surgical centre eat – lovely dinner ladies and you can eat as much as you want for 2000 riel – that equates to around 25p!
- Definitely try sugar cane juice when the lady comes around on her moto too.
- Uniform – it’s so hot (esp. during march-may) that I wore cropped trousers, shorts, and decent tops – there’s no need in dressing too smart as everybody is pretty laid back.
- Be prepared for things to “go with the flow” – it is not a regimented elective – which I think is good as it really allows you to immerse yourself in Cambodian nature.
- Ooh if you’re vegetarian – learn the words in Khmer for “no meat, no fish” etc and just re-iterate that when you go to eat. I found it difficult to find vegetarian food – esp. in Takhmao but it’s understandable as it’s not in Cambodian nature to not eat meat! However, Sophak, Sokney and Joanna all made sure the dinner ladies at Takhmao had some vegetables for me; they really look after you during your elective so just remember to have fun!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
A Summary of Our Time At Chey Chumneas Referral Hospital
The hospital itself was beautiful. Although the buildings were rather plain and poorly stocked compared to the high tech hospital rooms I worked in last year, they also seemed more inviting and family-oriented. Doors and windows were wide open, Bougainvillea blossoms surrounded most of the compound, and families took a more active role in feeding and caring for the sick. This may have been necessary, since the hospital probably doesn't have a budget for kitchens or extra nurses or aids, but it was still nice to see. Danielle and I had several talks about how the US could learn a thing or two from Cambodia about creating an environment conducive to healing. As long as that environment still includes general anesthesia.
Of course, the most inspiring part of our experience was watching the work of intelligent, dedicated people as they tried to improve the lives of others. Many of the doctors had worked longer and harder than ever would have been necessary in the US to obtain an education and competently practice medicine. While a few seemed like stereotypical type A achievers, others took the time to carefully explain complicated procedures in a foreign language to 2 clueless American girls, made room around the operating table and invited us to peak over their shoulders, let us take a few pictures for Bill to share with Rose supporters, and managed to play host to us while holding someone's life in their hands.
And then there was the Rose staff. Dr. Sarom was performing surgeries from dawn to dusk the entire time we were there for an Operation Smile initiative, but still helped us observe surgeries at the hospital in his absence. Sokny played tour guide during our trip to the countryside, showed us some of his amazing work, and let us practice our dismal Khmer on him over lunch. Rith, the office administrator, introduced us to doctors and helped find people for us to shadow. And of course our BFFs Bill and Jan went out of their way to find opportunities for us, entertained us with dinners, serenades, trivia nights, and stories from their travels, and generally spoiled us.
Despite a few miscommunications and the fact that a few of the doctors didn't seem to know what to do with us other than lose us like Jason Bourne losing an FBI tail, the time we spent at Rose gave us an incredible opportunity to observe the everyday operation of a health care system that is vastly different from the one we're used to. Our experiences were more than we'd hoped for, and probably much more than we are entitled to as an art/math grad and a premed student. We've become believers in the effectiveness of Rose, and with the help of Bill and Jan are already lining up more Rose-endorsed charities to volunteer with in Uganda and Nairobi. If any of you have cash burning a hole in your pocket and want to find a reputable charity to donate to, this one's a keeper.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
During a brief study abroad in 2005, I toured a clinic operated by RoseCharities in Phnom Penh and was impressed by the efficiency and dedication of the medical workers there. In fact, this was the clinic that first sparked my interest in becoming a doctor. It was one of the few NGOs my class visited that offered both immediate and long-term relief to people struggling through the effects of poverty: immediate relief through life-saving medical procedures that would have been otherwise impossible for the clinic's patients, and long-term benefits through community outreach programs and an emphasis on improving the quality of life in Cambodia.
Even in the few short weeks we spent in Cambodia studying aid organizations, it was easy to become discouraged by the waste, and sometimes obvious corruption, that plagued well-intentioned charities, but the Rose Clinic seemed to stretch every dollar it received. As I saw firsthand in 2005, a $20 donation to RoseCharities can restore a person's sight, and $50 can repair a cleft palate or give a child the ability to walk. For more information on how to donate to RoseCharities, please see http://www.rosecharities.info/donate.htm.
The organization's efficiency can be traced to its formation, as outlined on the RoseCharities homepage:
"Founded by aid workers who were disillusioned by the waste and bureaucracy often seen in international aid, we started in Cambodia in 1998. The aim was to deliver effective, sustainable programmes directly to those in need, with minimal bureaucracy, and with transparency at every stage....We are run by volunteers, so administration costs are kept to a bare minimum, with 98% of donations going directly to support our work."
I contacted Rose last October and asked if they'd be willing to take us in for a few weeks as volunteers, and they graciously agreed. Since then, Bill and Jan Johnston have been bending over backwards to find opportunities to put our random interests and talents to work. We started last Wednesday with a short tour of the gynecology ward in the Chey Chumnas General Hospital in Takmao, the hospital where Rose Cambodia is based. That afternoon we helped enter patient files into the computer (data entry is a rare example of a skill that Danielle and I both possess).
Thursday we traveled to the countryside with Sokny, the physical therapist on staff at the Rose office, to work with a woman who had laid in bed for 30 years after a debilitating bout with encephalitis (for more info visit the Rose Rehab page: http://www.rosecambodia.org/?page_id=12). The physical therapists at Rose have been working with her to help her gain the strength to sit up, and in order to get her hands moving Danielle brought a bunch of art supplies. We made simple shapes for her to paint in, and Danielle taught her a few strokes. Danielle and I were so absorbed in watching her work that it took a while to notice the dozen or so kids from the village in a semicircle around her, jealously watching her paint. It was a great visit. As we left, Danielle hung some of her paintings next to her bed with ribbon.
On the way back to the office, we stopped to visit a woman who had been badly burned on her legs by gasoline, and the physical therapists changed a bandage for her. Apparently a skin graft had failed to take, so there was still a gaping wound behind her left knee months after the accident. While we were visiting her, her neighbors brought another potential patient to see the therapists and placed him on the bed next to her. The man had been in a motorcycle accident and could no longer move the left side of his arm. The physical therapists assessed him and made an appointment to see him later at the clinic.
As we were about to leave, the neighbors convinced the therapists to see a woman next door who was having trouble walking. While the physical therapists did their thing, Danielle and I hung back and smiled shyly at some very friendly older women, who seemed to be staring at us. One of them started talking, half at us and half at the women around her. She then started wiping at her nose, as if to inform me that I powdered sugar on the end of mine, so I self-consciously started doing the same but she just laughed. One of the therapists translated, "She wants your nose." This seemed hysterical at the time, so Danielle and I giggled about it for a while.
After the therapists had finished their work we got back in the tuk tuk, but before we could go there was some kind of commotion. The lady who couldn't stop looking at my nose jumped into the tuk tuk and handed us each a coconut and a straw. We very gratefully accepted and drove off.
We made one last stop to see a beautiful young girl who was working with the therapists to build the strength in her arms and legs, and then we took a holiday all weekend (2 working days is long enough...)
Today Bill gave us a tour of the Rose Eye Clinic just outside Phnom Penh in the morning, and Danielle and I returned in the afternoon to observe glaucoma surgeries. We watched for 2 and a half hours as nearly a dozen patients underwent the 20-30 minute procedure. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
The rest of Jess' blog
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Tuk Tuk to and from Phnom Penh to the hospital is around $4 each way -- crazy price considering you can get to Saigon for $8 - but that's westerner prices. If you ride a moto (motorcycle w driver) it is cheaper - $1.50 to $2.00 but you are strongly advised to wear a helmet, if you can bring one with you.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Directions to the Rose Charities / Rose Rehab Cambodia / Operation First / Kien Khleang / Chea Chumneas
2) For Operation FIRST / Rose Rehab Cambodia / Chea Chumneas etc... Takhmau, Kandal See. www.roserehab.org and look the ABOUT US section
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This month at the hospital was truly amazing, even more amazing than I had expected it to. Surely sometimes sad and depressing, but the work these people do just throws you off the chair (if you say that in English too...). The kindness and friendliness of these people is just outstanding. I can't even describe how privileged I feel to have been able to see and experience that, everything about it: the medical part, the cultural part, everything. Not just Joanna (who is doing a WONDERFUL job) but everybody there is just amazing and I loved my month there.
I guess I just want to say thank you for having given me the opportunity to participate. I feel very lucky to have been there!
Friday, March 19, 2010
The Vietnam elective I did was well organized though I learned little medicine (and more about the culture). It was also tough coming to terms with the fact that they had incredible resources but didn't in all cases have the education or compassion to use them as we might be used to.
I worked at Cho Ray hospital in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) http://www.facebook.com/l/71c4c;www.choray.org.vn/eleccourse.asp. The elective was set up directly through the hospital; they charge a small fee but you will have a locker and meals provided if you are in the Emergency room. The patients mostly speak Vietnamese, some English. Depending on the length of the elective, you'd do a few weeks in the ER and then a few in infectious disesease/paeds/etc. as desired. There is suturing, ultrasounding, intubations, and recusses in the ER. You can't really take any histories since even the forms are in Vietnamese (even though I was told the hospital was run in English). [I think I first heard about this from this website http://www.facebook.com/l/71c4c;www.thelancetstudent.com/2008/01/25/viva-vietnam/ which I discovered through googling "vietnam medical student elective" or the like].
Forgive my cynicism; I should say that I've done electives in 4 countries and have seen quite a variety of settings. I move to engage in sustainable placements in which I am able to leave something behind (eg. teaching the ABCs to medical students in Cambodia) as opposed to simply being an observer or a 'taker.'
That said, this may be an appropriate elective for someone who speaks Vietnamese, really wants to manage a lot of head trauma with few resources, or to understand the medical culture of an inner-city hospital in Vietnam. You may see some interesting pathology but much of it is similar to what you probably see at home. Experiencing HCMC is well worth the trip, though I'd caution you to set low expectations for learning at Cho Ray.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, November 5, 2009
There is an $8 per night guest house almost opposite Chea Chumneas Hospital in Takmau. However Takmau is a bit out of the way of main Phnom Penh life (and opposite end of town from the Eye Clinc), so some students prefer to stay in town.
.. otherwise.. click on link below
A short synopsis of cheap guesthouses in Phnom Penh (good as of Feb 2009)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I organised my placement nine months before I was due to start, through Will Grut who was extremely helpful and easy to liase with. I contacted Dr Sarom numerous times via a few different email addresses, but because he is very busy I didn't ever get a reply from him. This was not an issue however, there are usually a few students and he knows to expect them regularly.
I arrived at Chea Chumenas Hospital on my first day and it was easy to locate Dr Sarom using a note with his name written on it and plenty of hand gestures! Unfortunately there had been some miscommunication of some sort which meant there were seven elective students for the first two weeks I was there, far too many for a tiny surgical unit. Thankfully Dr Sarom made arrangements for two girls to go to the paediatric department where they did ward rounds and outpatients and I went to the Rose Charities Eye Clinic, based on the other side of the city, over the Tonle Sap River.
I spent two weeks at the eye clinic, doing clinic in the mornings, where locals drop in to be seen by Dr Vra and his wife Natalia who are the Rose opthalmologists. Firstly we would see the patients from the previous day's surgery, then would see around 150 drop-ins over the morning. Any requiring surgery would get it that afternoon usually. The unit was very small, but everyone was very friendly, and the administration man speaks great english and was very helpful. I was able to watch cataract and pterygium removals and even an upper lid plasty . I think it was actually a friend of Natalia's who paid for her surgery. I saw very advanced pathology and learnt a lot of opthalmology during my two weeks. Unfortunately Dr Vra was not at clinic much and I was mostly with Natalia who was lovely, but not at all confident in her English, so tended to just show me the slit lamp and say a few words. Obviously communication with llocals was difficult, but the Khmer people are so sensationally friendly that I had many "conversations", me speaking English and them speaking Khmer, but we seemed to understand each other! I think one week at the eye clinic would be a good amount of time to see and experience great opthalmology.
I spent two days with Impact Charity going on outreach clinic trips to places around Phnom Penh. These were great experiences I would highly recommend (Dr Sarom can hook you up). The Impact team are super friendly and loved having me come along.They thought I was much more expereinced in opthalmology than I was, so was set up with a huge group of petients with eye complaints which I tried to deal with, using a translator. Mainly I just reassured those without pathology and decided whether referral was needed in the others. If you were to go on one of these trips, I would try and organise a bit of equipment, as I only took my stethoscope which had a little torch on it, an opthalmoscope would have been handy! I also helped dispense medications on these trips, which was a fun change. These villages were great spot-the-diagnosis places, with heaps of pathology all around.
I spent the second two weeks with the surgical team at Chea Chumenas Hospital, where the pace was so slow that if it had been any slower, time would have been standing still! The team were very relaxed and fun to be with. The anaesthetist was particularly friendly and helpful. I saw thyroid surgery, hernia repairs and appendicectomies mainly. I didn't scrub into any surgeries, which I was happy with as the surgeons seemed a little irractic with their sharps and all keen to get their hands dirty. The thyroid surgery had four people scrubbed and for most of it there were eight hands in or around the incision, all popping in instruments as they saw fit! Unfortunately for me it was a particularly quiet patch while I was there, often I would arrive in the morning to find no electives booked, no acutes arrived and nothing happening at Dr Sarom's private clinic (which he is happy for students to hang out at when surgeries at Chea Chumenas are finished). Also, Operation First weren't operating while I was there either, so I didn't see any cleft lip/palate repairs which I had been looking forward to, but that's just the luck of the draw. I would definitely recommend finding out when the visiting charity Operation Rainbow are visiting and co-ordinating your visit with them, as I have heard that being with them is fantastic. I talked with Dr Sarom about how quiet it was, and he said it was because there is the Pchum Ben Festival which runs for 15 days in September. For a month beforehand everyone is very busy planning for it, so don't get their operations during this time! So I wouldn't recommend coming during August or September. There is also a water festival in November which is similar according to Dr Sarom, so it may be better not to go then either.
I stayed at Okay Guesthouse which had lovely clean rooms and super friendly staff. I negotiated a great room rate (US$10 a night for a double room with hot shower bathroom and cable tv) because I was staying for four weeks. Phaly was a staff member there and he drove me anywhere I wanted on the back of his motorbike, including to and from the hospital everyday. He was easily contactable by phone (he set me up with a SIM card when I arrived). Having a driver was really useful and I felt very safe and trusted him.
Cambodia is a sensational place to do your elective, but not if you're after an action packed placement. After a busy time in ED in Ireland and Saigon, the pace of Rose was perfect for me though! I met a girl who had a great time doing an Obstetrics elective at the national womens hospital, near Wat Phnom, which she highly recommended. There are great opportunities to travel and lovely places to see in Cambodia too, rich in Ancient and recent history.
So, enjoy your time and make the most of the amazing Khmer culture and people - they are truly incredible! I am happy to be contacted regarding an elective in Cambodia, Will Grut has my email details.
It is very important to keep the above in mind. The medicine and surgery also is not highly sophisticated. Almost nowhere in Cambodia is this so. The message is really that an elective with Operation FIRST / Rose Charities is best suited for those who are interested in the 'total experience' of Cambodia, not simply to focus on medical / surgical activity. Medical Schools the world over run surprisingly different systems. Some give multiple elective periods over the whole training period, some one big elective almost as a 'reward' for hard work over the years , some ask for very focused electives. You should think carefully about what you want out of your elective. My personal view is illness and human mechanisms for coping with it are deeply integrated into the social fabric of the population, and so to try to isolate the simple procedures of our discipline and focus only on those gives a very stilted viewpoint. The counter argument however is that exams have to be passed and experience in procedures is needed to pass them. Bottom line is that it is your call, but an elective in Cambodia may well not offer what you want, so please think carefully. It is almost as disappointing for us, as it is for you, if you feel let down.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Car / vehicle crashes are common and are usually bad, especially outside of Phnom Penh and other towns (where traffic makes traveling speeds slower). People drive too fast and nearly always in rickety, badly maintained vehicles which would be banned from the roads in many other countries. Dont get trapped into being in a dangerous driving situation. Tell the driver to slow down, even pay him to do so, and if he does not, then get him to stop the vehicle and find another. Ask around before you go with any particular driver. Overland taxi's overcrowd their vehicles (putting up to 8 or 9 people in small cars). Dont use them !! If you have to, pay for the whole vehicle and insist absolutely that they drive slowly. Crashes at speed will kill you ... !!
Sarah writes..."About 30 mins in we had a bit of a reality check, there was a crowd gathered as we came to an intersection, which almost always means one thing…an accident. We drove past slowly to avoid the crowd and I was just waiting to see something I didn’t want to see...the people involved in the crash. Luckily there was no people there, just the aftermath from the bikes…one was ripped in half, the front wheel completely missing, there was debris everywhere and a fitting reminder of what can happen, especially if not dressed appropriately…a pair of thongs were the only sign of the driver. We all fell silent as we passed and I was glad to be driven by girls that were very careful with their speed, a bit different to the young boys around town.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I arrive in Phnom Penh in 2 weeks time so I'm very excited.
I wore pants or capris at the hospital, a short-sleeved shirt, and my short-white-coat. It doesn't have to be too dressy though jeans or shorts would be inappropriate.
Do bring your own scrubs as they probably won't have any for you. You can probably wear sandles - many of the Cambodians do - but from a safety perspective, close-toed shoes are always best. You are your own boss in that department. It does get hot no matter what you are wearing!
Monday, May 18, 2009
At the eye clinic, there were lots of cataracts, glaucoma, and sometraumatic eye injuries. In Dr. Sarom's clinic, the patients usually hadgeneral complaints - sore stomach, chest pain, trouble breathing fatigue - or they had appendicitis or an orthotrauma that required surgery. Also saw a c-section, a hydrocele repair, and a thyroidsurgery . The rest was cleft-lip and palate surgeries with operationsmile, and one from dr Sarom's clinic.
Somtimes the volume of patients could be quite low. That is why Will and I suggest asking him to help you connect with other departments at the hospital,like pediatrics, or to go to the eye clinic at other times.
In Cambodia, I did travel a bit. The first weekend was a holiday sothere wasn't much at the hospital. I went to Shianoukville (nice, iftouristy beach)/Kampot (small quiet place, not a lot to do but interesting caves nearby)/Kep (nice beach and seafood) to the south.went on my own but met other travellers along the way (on the bus) thatI hung out with a bit. I was lucky that Operation Smile was in PhnomPenh for about 1.5wks while I was there. I got pretty heavily involvedwith their operations and when they took a trip to Siem Reap, I joinedin
Friday, May 15, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Comment: A great report Suzanne. Many thanks. A good tactic if things get slow at one center is to head up to the RoseCharities Eye Clinic at Kien Khleang. It is the busiest of its type in Cambodia and operations go on almost every afternoon (when other centers can get quiet). There is so much untreated eye disease in developing countries, that any experience that trainee doctors in that area could be of huge benefit in the future.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
(Mindy did her elective with FIRST-RoseCharities in April 08)
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Just a quick note to say that I've had my first day at Chea Chumnas. Dr Sarom has been very welcoming. I scrubbed in for an operation this morning which was a fantastic experience. I've hooked up with a couple of other med students from London and will also probably be joining one from Australia.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I’ve had a brilliant time here in Phnom Penh and especially at Chey Chumnas. Life here is pretty relaxed, but once adjusted really enjoyable, you certainly get more from the experience if you just go with the flow. Initially I was a bit concerned about being on my own out here, but staying in Phnom Penh has allowed me to make so many friends out here. Dr Sarom has been a star, relaxed and easy going and always keen to point you in the direction of another department if you’re not enjoying where you currently are. I’ve spent time in both surgery and paeds now. Despite being really keen on surgery, it is paeds which I enjoyed the most. It’s certainly been a great learning experience. All the doctors on the paeds ward speak good English, which is something that can’t always be said for other departments. Yesterday I ran my own paeds HIV clinic. A pretty daunting task at first, but by the end I was quite happy ordering investigations and writing prescriptions for anti viral drugs (all done through a translator, my Khmer still isn’t quite up to scratch!). All the kids I have met have been amazing, they’re so well behaved.
During my stay in PnP I have been staying at teh Bhoddi Tree guesthouse. It is opposite Tuol Sleng, which is probably the most famous of Pol Pots prisons. Over 17 thousand people were “processed” through there, and indefinitely ended up going out to the killing fields. The actual guesthouse is so charming, it is set back from the road surrounded by a patio garden with large tropical plants sheltering you from the sun. Even if you don’t stay here it is a nice place to go for a quick coffee or a smoothie. The staff here are great, really accommodating and will bend over backwards to help you out (even organising sim cards for mobiles). Prices here can range depending on your budget, you can live it up with air con and an en-suite for around $23 dollars or settle for a fan and shared shower for around $12. The way I worked it out was I got them to do me a deal as I was spending a more prolonged period there compared to the majority of their guests. There are plenty of mottos outside the guesthouse to take you wherever you want and generally they speak fairly good English. Expect to pay around a couple of to get to the hospital in the morning and a dollar back. If you don’t use berrang mottos then you can certainly arrange your fair for cheaper, but they will be a walk around a corner from teh tourist hot spots.
PnP has a really large ex-pat community probably as a result of the number of NGO’s operating out of here. Consequently there are some really great places to go meet people away from the hassles of flower sellers and beggars. If you fancy a bagel and a coffee for lunch why not go check out the Garden Centre (on st57), Java (nr independence monument) or The Shop. All have loyal regular customers and the food is really just what you need if you’re tired of noodles and rice! In the evenings I’ve been eating in a plethora of places, from venders selling noodles on the street, to quite extravagant restaurants and sushi bars. There is a place to cater to everyone’s needs and budgets. Road 63 is a good one to go exploring in search of food, both berrang and Khmer eat here alike.
After super if you’ve had too much chili in your noodles then you would probably want to go and wash it down with a few glasses of Angkor (the local brew). There are loads of ex-pat bars where you don’t get any hassle like you can in Siem Reap or over the boarder in Thailand. I’ve been frequenting Equinox and Rubys wine bar fairly often. Another place to go meet people is Gasolina, there they have regular dance and martial arts classes in the evening. I’ve been going to Capoiera (a brazilian non contact martial art) its something that I would never do back in the UK, but has been really good fun and I’ve met so many friends there. Good bars to watch the sun set are Guesthouse number 9 at lakeside and Snowy’s bar on the other side of the river.
The hospital is pretty relaxed and you can normally take Friday afternoons off. As a result the weekends provide the perfect opportunity to get out of the city and go exploring. If you come to Cambodia you must go to Siem Reap to go the temples at Angkor. There are regular bus and boats, or if you don’t fancy 6 hours in a bus there a regular half hour flights. I bought only a day pass on Friday evening which entitled me entry to the park after about 4ish, which allowed us to go and see the sun set over the temples. We then got up early the next day to watch dawn break over Angkor Wat, if you make the effort it is one of those moments that will stay with you for the rest of your life. There is a real aura about the whole place at this time in the morning. Siem Reap is a rapidly growing town as a result of the numbers of visitors going to see the temples, I stayed at the Merridean purely because it was one of the nearest to the temples, but there are cheaper options in town. The nightlife in Siem Reap is pretty good, and there is a great bar called Angkor What? along a strip of bars and restaurants known to the locals as bar street.
We also have had weekend excursion to Udong, to see yet more temples. After which personally I was a bit templed out. SO the following weekend we went to Kep and stayed on the hill, just below Veranda bungalows. Kep doesn’t really have a beach as such, so we took a short boat ride across to Rabbit Island. It was pretty peaceful and we had the beach to ourselves.
Overall I’ve had such a great time out here, if your prepared to go with the flow and be outgoing you’ll have an amazing time here. If anyone wants to know more about what clinical skills/experiences I think I have gained from this elective please drop me a mail. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org