Ever since I got my place at medical school I was excited about my elective. I had been sure from the beginning that I wanted to go to Mexico because I had friends in the country and really enjoyed learning Spanish at A level. Despite having friends there, I thought it would be quite difficult to organise a hospital placement by myself.
I ended up coming across Work the World, who conveniently offer placements in Merida. This seemed like a perfect plan for my elective, and I have not regretted going to Merida with Work the World one bit! It took the stress out of organising my own placement and accommodation but still allowed me to do my elective in the place I had always dreamed of!
I learnt a lot about haematology because the doctor was great at answering questions and often tried to find interesting cases to show me and discuss.
On my first day in the hospital, the Programme Manager took me to collect my ID badge and introduced me to the doctor I would be with. The placement itself was very good. I started off in haematology and oncology in the high speciality hospital, which was really interesting. I got to see blood samples from patients I had seen in the clinic both under the microscope and being analysed in the lab too. I learnt a lot about haematology because the doctor was great at answering questions and often tried to find interesting cases to show me and discuss.
Later in my placement, I was in a different hospital where I got involved with simple practical tasks such as taking blood. It was really good to be able to contrast the two hospitals because even though they are in the same city, they are very different.
While there are many similarities between medicine in Mexico and in the UK, the most obvious difference I saw during my time in Merida was patients presenting much later, so diseases were much more advanced. There was also less care around infection control and hand hygiene. However, the doctors were really friendly and happy to teach you and you could tell they care about their patients.
I loved living in the house and meeting other students from around the world
Afternoons and weekends were really fun. Everyone in Merida is so friendly and I never felt unsafe at all. I loved living in the house and meeting other students from around the world, it was really great to enjoy exploring Mexico together.
All of the Work the World staff are lovely and friendly and they always had helpful tips about how to organise things. It was a great place to practice my Spanish and learn lots about Mayan history. There are so many beautiful cenotes to cool down in, and incredible ruins such as Uxmal or Chichen Itza nearby to enjoy. When we were there, it was festival time in Merida and we got to see how they celebrate with lots of traditional dress, often mixed with very modern music. This was really lucky timing for me!
I would really recommend going to Merida. It is such a wonderful part of Mexico and I definitely felt like I got everything out of it that I had wished for and more, both in terms of my placement and also exploring a new culture.