The Philippines 2019: Learning by Doing (Taylor Cuenin)

“Overall, being a volunteer for M2H was an exciting and inspiring experience. I arrived not knowing what to expect and left with the intention of returning next year on yet another mission.”

The opportunity to volunteer for M2H was an incredible way to serve others as well as gain unique hands-on medical experience and dive into a cultural immersion experience. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning what inspired them to devote their time and skills to serving others through medicine. As a recent college graduate with little working experience in the medical field, I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for this mission. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because not knowing what each day would bring allowed more room for excitement in anticipation of what we would be doing next. 

One of the things that I will remember and respect most from this mission is the level of effort, coordination, and cooperation required from all the members of the team in order to properly serve the community where we stationed the MSU. The local government was very accommodating and appreciative of the service we brought to their community and worked closely with us over the course of the mission to ensure we were housed comfortably, fed, and kept busy with lots of patients. I appreciated the efforts they had put in before our arrival to advertise to their community that the MSU was coming so that we had the opportunity to serve as many people as possible. 

Another aspect of the mission I enjoyed was the screening process. Although I could not speak the language, I still felt like I was able to make a connection with the patients. Seeing how grateful each patient was simply for the opportunity to be assessed by our team, regardless of whether or not we were able to help them, left a lasting impression on me. Even after waiting hours for what was oftentimes just a thirty-second screening, each patient said thank you before leaving and seemed so grateful for the opportunity to be helped. At first I was somewhat intimidated by the fast pace of the screening process, but once I became more comfortable with how it worked I was willing to interact more freely with the patients.

Although seeing fifty-two patients over the span of fifteen hours was exhausting, it was also extremely rewarding. Despite how long and busy our day was, I was motivated to stay focused and engaged due to the fact that we were serving others. Some of the patients we saw waited the entire day for a minor operation, so the team’s willingness to continue working until every patient was seen was inspiring and also took a lot of dedication. I enjoyed working in the MSU as a member of a team not only because everyone worked so efficiently with one another but because it made me feel like I had an important role to play regardless of my level of skill in medicine.

I appreciated the opportunity to try stitching, give injections and even attempt some of the minor operations on my own. It was overwhelming to be trusted to try so many new things, but I enjoyed the opportunity to “learn by doing”. It definitely took a while to get used to how the operations worked, but even observing them taught me what medications and instruments are used. I’ve never handled some of the instruments we were using before, but I left with a much better understanding of how a minor operation worked from start to finish. All of the questions I had were answered throughout the day and I appreciated the encouragement to ask more and continue learning with each new patient. For a beginner like myself, even simple skills things like learning how to put on a pair of sterile gloves was a great learning opportunity.

Overall, being a volunteer for M2H was an exciting and inspiring experience. I arrived not knowing what to expect and left with the intention of returning next year on yet another mission. The organization as a whole has an incredible vision and serves an amazing cause. I’m blessed for the opportunity to serve others in a part of the world I have never before seen. I truly feel like I have made a difference, which inspired me to want to continue serving others through medicine in the future.

One of our organization’s core goals is to inspire and mobilize aspiring medical professionals. Get a hands-on experiece in the field of medicine and join us for a mission by applying here