Kwok from Hong Kong, Medical Student:
What type of internship did you do, when and for how long?
I completed a medical internship at Mount Meru Hospital, Arusha. The medical internship started from 5th August 2019 and lasted for about one week. Mount Meru Hospital is a government hospital in Tanzania and offer treatment to patients in multiple disciplines, such as surgery and dentistry. I finished the placement in the dental department in Mount Meru Hospital.
During which year of your studies did you complete your dentistry internship abroad?
I completed my dental elective during the 4th year of my dental studies.
Please describe why you decided to do a dentistry internship abroad.
I have always wanted to pay Africa a visit for its famous wildlife and sceneries. The medical internship provided me a perfect chance to learn about the oral health conditions in Africa and to learn from dental practitioners in Tanzania.
How did you come across World Unite?
A senior at university told me about his internship experience in Mount Meru Hospital with World Unite!. I was interested in having an organization helping me to arrange the entire internship trip and felt that it is much safer to have an organization which could offer me help and advice during the trip.
Which departments of the hospital did you work in? Did you stay in one department or rotate through multiple departments and why?
I worked in the dental department of the hospital. I observed and engaged in dental treatments such as extractions and fillings. It was a great chance for me to learn from dental practitioners in Tanzania, who offered me advice and skills on extraction in particular. I stayed in one department only because of the limited time available during the trip.
Describe a typical day at the hospital, including your work days, working hours and your tasks.
A typical day in Mount Meru Hospital started at 9:00am when we arrived at the dental clinic. There would already be a large crowd of citizens waiting outside the dental clinic as the demand for dental treatment in Tanzania is high. Patients would be called in one by one for dental treatment and we would observe treatments by the side of the dental chair. The dentist would first start by history taking, followed by taking radiographs and performing the treatments. If we were lucky enough, we could be asked to conduct simple treatments such as extractions and fillings for the patients, which was a precious experience. Afterwards, during breaks, the dentists there would share experiences and cases with us. We were able to learn much from hearing from them different cases. After the lunch break form 12:00-1:00, we went back to the clinic to continue our work until 16:30.
Describe a situation that surprised you or that seemed special to you during the internship.
I was surprised by how welcoming the host and the hospital are. The dentists in the hospital treated us as friends but not juniors. They talked to us about their own funny and interesting experiences and had lunch with us for a few times during our elective. Our host held a farewell barbecue party for us on the night we finished our internship. The bonding between us is special and unforgettable.
What did you learn during your dentistry internship abroad?
I gained a lot of clinical exposure to cases which we wouldn’t normally see in Hong Kong, such as serious maxillofacial trauma caused by the bite of a wild animal. I also had a precious experience on dental practice with limited resources available, such as how to provide a competent treatment for the patient even if the environment wasn’t desirable. It is truly something that could only be learnt by having an elective abroad. It truly broadens my horizon.
Which cultural differences did you observe between the medical systems / treatments / doctor-patient relation etc. in your host country and your home country?
Due to the limitation of resources, only simple treatment could be carried out in the dental setting. It could be due to inadequate government funding or poverty of the patients. Patients often only come to the dental clinic when there is symptoms, unlike in my home country where some patients would come for a regular dental check-up.
How did you spend your free time abroad? Did you get to know other interns at the hospital with whom you did activities? Did you go on trips? If yes, what did you do and where?
We went on trips during our free time abroad. We went to Zanzibar after the intern and went to the famous Serengeti safari. It was truly a rewarding experience.
Kwok completed his dentistry internship with World Unite!, a specialist provider for electives, internships and volunteering in medicine, nursing, therapies and midwifery. Click here to read more about their hospital options in Moshi, Tanzania and learn how to apply for your own elective abroad!