Clinical Experience- Anthony
Physician Assistant Clinical Experience in Guam- Anthony
When I had the chance to explore Guam and interact with the locals during my first few days on the island and in clinic, I quickly began to realize how vastly different life on Guam was in comparison to life on Mainland America. Firstly, the living situations where I was housed was markedly made to lower standards than that of what I had been accustomed to. Many households thrived on the bare minimum, and luxuries such as air conditioning was uncommon due to the high cost of utilizing them. Buying food was three times the cost than in California, and finding fresh fruits and veggies was a bit of a challenge as shipments of such foods only occurred one day a week. By the time I arrived after work, much of the prime selection was already taken, which ultimately made it difficult for me to eat healthy all the time.
Despite this, I believe the biggest wake-up call was working in the clinics. At the time I was in Guam, there had only been one hospital which served the entire island (currently I believe another has finally opened), and because it was the sole hospital on the island, it had always been over 100% capacity. Due to this, many locals would come to the SDA Clinic to receive their care, many of whom were surprisingly high acuity. What was immediately apparent was the overall health of the locals.
Although many of my patients were in optimal health, the vast majority which I encountered were suffering from advanced stages of diabetes, gout, hypertension, and various other medial ailments. To put it bluntly, it was as if the patients I was used to back in the states had went and hit the overdrive button of their medical conditions. However, what was comforting was that most of them were very willing to make a change in their health, and the vast majority of them had the proper health insurance to deal with the costs of their conditions.
One way I was able to help my diabetic patients was by instructing fitness workshops with the SDA clinics New Start program. In essence, this program helped those who were overweight or diabetic turn their lives around by teaching them proper dietary changes, instructing them on certain medical conditions and how it relates to their overall health, and also getting them to sweat for about 30 minutes during each class (which of course was my job). At the conclusion of the program, I was elated to see the progress each person had made, and I was honored to have been a part of that program.
My experience on the island wasn't just limited to the clinic, as during certain times I would volunteer at the local health fairs, offering free screening programs and advice to those who required it, some of whom did not have the insurance or ability to allow them to regularly see a doctor. During these times myself and other providers would see upwards of 100 patients, and were able to give them the guidance they needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I also enjoyed volunteering in the local triathlons, lending emergency first aid to those who required it.
My experience wasn't all work however, as I very much enjoyed visiting the local SDA churches (of whom had some of the most amazing potlucks I've ever had), enjoying market night at Chamorro Village, and exploring the many hikes of the island with the clinic employees. Overall, I would say that
Guam was the most humbling and enjoyable experience I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing, and I hope to be able to do it all over again one day.