AS SOON AS THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE HAPPENED, I was compelled to go. A friend referred me to International Medical Corps (IMC). I submitted my application, and within a week I was working at various sites in Haiti, including the E.R. in Port-au-Prince and a mobile clinic in Carrefour.
The three weeks I spent in Haiti was the most intense and rewarding experience I have had as a physician and as a person. The situation embodied the original reason why i pursued a career in medicine. It was humbling to be among so many diversely talented and trained providers from all over the world who felt a similar calling to serve our global family and represent our peers who wanted to be there but were unable to for various reasons. The emotional, physical and technical challenges of practicing medicine in an unforgiving environment with sparse resources necessitated a reservoir of patience and practicality.
It was frustrating watching people suffer and die, knowing that under different circumstances, their outcomes would be more favorable. However, I have deep satisfaction in the connections I made with the Haitians, who were extremely appreciative and grateful for even the simplest of interventions. Their heartfelt smiles and the grace they displayed during unspeakable adversity are forever etched in my mind as a new standard of the strength of the human character.
For information about IMC and volunteer opportunities in haiti and elsewhere, go to: www.internationalmedicalcorps.org