As I sat on the banks of the Mekong alone after my last day at CSC, I looked back on my 6 weeks in Cambodia. I thought of every patient I had met, every person who had helped me during my time at CSC, and every experience I had in Cambodia. In many ways, it still feels like a dream. I had never expected to come to Cambodia, let alone somewhere like CSC. I still find it hard to understand how I've been transported here, so far from home. Although I am still processing my entire time in Cambodia, I know for a fact that I would not have given up this experience for anything. It has truly been the best and most impactful 6 weeks of my life. I will try my best to make some sense of these feelings and tell you why.
As a medical student, life can be incredibly interesting and exciting, but it can also be confusing and demoralizing. Trying to balance learning endless medical facts and gaining experience in the hospital or the community (as well as having a life outside of medicine!) is a difficult task. We go through cycles of achievements, self-confidence, mistakes, and self-doubt as we reach different milestones throughout our degree. The road is long, and we often lose sight of where we're going and why we're making this journey.
In January, with my imminent final exams looming (as well as the junior doctor strikes in the UK), I had lost track of what being a doctor was all about and why I wanted to become one. My mind was simply focused on reaching the destination I had set out for 6 years ago. I felt unsure of what the future would hold, where my place is in medicine, and what my future would look like. Although I still have these uncertainties to some degree, my time at CSC has truly shown me the value that medicine has around the world.
As doctors, we have an incredible opportunity to improve not only the lives of individuals but also the futures of communities and countries. At times, my idea of what medicine was, was just providing treatments and medications to patients. At CSC, I have seen how passionate and driven doctors have created, built, and sustained an organization that benefits thousands of people each year in Cambodia. The sense of community at CSC is so strong, with patients and their families being around each other so much, that it makes it clear how big of an impact this will have. It has taught me that if I am passionate about a cause in medicine, I have the capacity to make it happen as long as I have the drive.