LABRADOR CITY, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Maggie Drover of Labrador City is finishing her last year of high school this year, but she’s already planning for university.
“I’ve always leaned towards the medical field and thought about nursing as one option, or maybe even a doctor, but it’s quite an intense field of study so I wanted to be sure that I was making the right choice,” Maggie told The Aurora.
She heard about Gap Medics, a hospital-based medical internship shadowing program, based out of the United Kingdom. Volunteers get to go behind the scenes and it helps them decide if this is indeed the career they want to peruse.
With a little research and the support of family and friends Maggie applied, and in July spent three weeks in La Romana, about an hour outside Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
“I spent a week each at three different hospitals,” she explained. “The students could choose between nursing, (which was to be her original choice) but could elect surgery, dentistry, internal medicine and obstetrics.”
The students would be assigned to a doctor and were then present with them at the hospital, for example to observe, and in some ways help.
“I got to watch a birth, which was amazing,” she said. “Then I was able to help clean the baby and actually got to hold the newborn baby. Sometimes I assisted by handing things to doctors.”
The students are limited to what they can do, these are learning hospitals. Maggie says at one point they learned to do stitches, by using a pig foot.
Maggie said there was time to connect with patients and to hear their stories.
When working maternity, Maggie says it was an awesome experience.
“Watching the births and washing them and then holding them, I really enjoyed that,” she said.
For the surgery, there was a lot of trauma.
“People involved in motorcycle accidents arrived with broken bones or other injuries,” Maggie said. “Some students found that difficult and found watching surgery a little too much. For me, I know this is what I wanted to do.”
Maggie is in the process of applying for schools, and is hoping to study at Trent University in Ontario.
“I have family in the area and it’s a smaller school. I visited it, and I really like the atmosphere there,” she said.
Maggie says she is sure her volunteer work and time she spent with Gap Medics will help when she applies.
There were about 100 students in the Dominican Republic with Maggie. She said they were like family. They stayed in a well-supervised, secure dormitory, and at times she helped with the cooking and enjoyed leisure time with the many students she met.
There were students from all over the world — Canada, United States, Egypt and the UK.
“I’ve come away with a vast amount of knowledge and know this is the career I want to pursue, and I’ve made great friends that I still keep in touch with,” she said.
Maggie would recommend this type of program for students who are thinking of choosing a career. She says there are many similar programs for other career choices if you look for them.
“I’m glad I did this,” she said. “I’d like to go back to the Dominican, and I’m already making an effort to improve my Spanish.
“The place has a special spot in my heart now, and I’d like to go back and do more for the people, and bring supplies to help with the things some of them lack.
Maggie noted, “My time with Gap Medics has made a big positive difference in my life.”