The world is med student's rotation

University of Minnesota medical student Beth Bard, daughter of Pastor David Bard from First United Methodist Church in Duluth, spent almost a year away from home.

Bard and Killaars
Bard (right) with Renee Killaars, a medical student from the Netherlands, together did quite a few rotations while in Uganda. (Submitted photos)

University of Minnesota medical student Beth Bard, daughter of Pastor David Bard from First United Methodist Church in Duluth, spent almost a year away from home.

"You're always concerned for your children's safety, especially when they're far away," David Bard told the Budgeteer, "but Beth is a very capable young woman, so I wasn't worried about that."

Her travels have taken her from Sweden to India to Uganda to practice medicine and gain exposure to different cultures across the globe.

"I wanted to develop relationships internationally," Beth Bard said, "and I wanted to gain more understanding of the global medicine community."

Her favorite trip was to Uganda, she said, because of the whole combined experience, medically and non-medically.


"There were so many patients in Uganda and the severity of illness I saw was more than anywhere else," she said, "but the people were a great system of support."

Beth worked at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, through April, May and June. According to her, patients from all over the country go to that hospital

when their problems exceed the capabilities of their local facilities.

"There was not a lot of supervision for international medical students because the hospital was too overwhelmed with patients and not enough doctors," she said.

She spent three weeks in Ob/Gyn on the high-risk labor ward and after that, worked two weeks on the

surgical casualty ward.

"This is like our emergency department in the U.S., but its split into a side for medical problems and a side for

surgical problems."


They see a lot of trauma in the surgical casualty ward, typically due to road traffic accidents, she said, which is becoming a huge problem all over the developing world.

Beth spent another two weeks with a medical student from the Netherlands on a rural rotation in Arua, Uganda, in the West Nile region.

"It was a great experience to see a more rural hospital setting than in Kampala," she said. "We rotated through several departments to get a sense of how things worked at the hospital, but ended up spending most of our time in the emergency department."

According to her, these were the most difficult two weeks she had in Uganda. "I have never seen such sick children in my life. We saw children with AIDS, multiple opportunistic infections, and children in shock, typically from dehydration or infection."

Like the Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Beth said that they often found themselves alone without any physicians, residents, or interns.

"I think she certainly benefited by seeing medical care in different parts of the world," David Bard said. "It enlarged her heart and she got to see humanity in different circumstances, while gaining wonderful medical experience."

Besides participating in the medical scene in Uganda, she was able to have non-medical experiences.

"I lived in a house with other international students from all over the world, so we spent many of our weekends traveling."


Beth went whitewater rafting on the Nile River, traveled to the eastern border to Sipi Falls -- a 99-meter drop waterfall near the Kenyan border -- and various other activities, like safaris and gorilla trekking.

"I also went to a Uganda Cranes soccer match," she said. "Soccer is the number one sport there, and I also spent some weekends just hanging out in Kampala."

Back in Minnesota and looking toward the future, she'll be finishing up her clinical rotations and applying for an Ob/Gyn residency.

But these travels have benefited her and have allowed her to gain more confidence in herself, she said.

"I have learned that I can make friends anywhere from any nationality, and I've gained awareness that we're all people with the same needs, hopes, and dreams," she said. "We're a lot more similar than we are different."

As far as studying abroad goes, she said, "Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to live in a different culture and meet people with different perspectives and different approaches to life, work, and relationships."

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