Week 3- Day in the Life

July 22nd, 2014 by Laura Prewett
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6:30am – Time to wake up! Usually I wake up to a combination of my alarm and roosters crowing, with the sun just starting to peek up over the horizon.


6:50am – breakfast consisting of cereal or oatmeal, coffee or tea and fruit and yogurt. Usually casual chatting with other students and the Fredlund’s.


7:25am – leave to walk to the hospital


7:30-8:30am –  interdisciplinary rounds on a selected ward with team of doctors, students, physical therapists, dietician, and social worker. Doctors present patients and their treatment and long term plans are discussed. Senior doctors use this time to provide some teaching for students and young doctors as well


8:30-11am – Split up to round on assigned wards with individual doctors. I usually head to the pediatric ward and round with whichever medical officers are covering the sections. We discuss each patient’s history, diagnosis, examine them, go over lab results, and come up with a plan for the day. Since I’ve been here there are usually 10-20 patients admitted to the ward. We are able to care for most patients but sometimes patients have to be transferred to larger hospitals for more testing and treatment options.


11-12:30pm – I will either use this time to do some research on certain diseases that I am unfamiliar with or go to the outpatient department or OPD. OPD acts as an urgent care/ER/general clinic for the area. You will see anything and everything. Every patient who is admitted comes through OPD. So it can be a great learning experience for continuity to see a patient come into OPD, stabilize and evaluate them, admit them to the ward, and then be able to follow them daily during ward rounds.


12:30-1:30pm- lunch time. I head home to have some tea and lunch. Usually a few of us end up coming home for lunch around the same time. We visit and chat about our mornings before heading back to the hospital for the afternoon.


1:30-4pm – OPD/work on presentation/Theater. There are a variety of things going on in the afternoon. I usually ask around to see if there is a case in theater in the afternoon. If so, I’m able to join them. Otherwise I’ll work in OPD or spend time on making a presentation or keeping up to date on articles.


4-7pm – Afternoons are completely free. I usually try to go for a run, and then make personal calls and answer emails and what not. It gets dark here around 5:30pm so there’s not really a lot of time to spend outdoors. But the Fredlund’s house is large and friendly and its the perfect time to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea.


7-9pm- We usually prepare and eat dinner all together…all 17 of us! Rachel is a master in the kitchen so she spearheads dinner and we all do whatever she asks. From chopping, to squeezing, to boiling, to cleaning, etc. When dinner is ready she rings a bell (which causes us all to start salivating) and everyone comes to the kitchen for a blessing before the meal. We all fill our plates in the kitchen then spread out in the living area and chat about our days and lives and just generally get to know each other. Dinner is a great time of day. We all pitch in to clean the kitchen afterwards, which goes surprisingly quickly when so many people are involved


9-10pm- I’m usually winding down about now. I’ll read a little bit and get ready for bed. I usually fall asleep to the (quite loud) sounds of the frogs in the pond…which I admit I will not miss a bit!


This is my schedule pretty much Monday – Friday with a few slight differences regarding teaching sessions during the day and whatnot. On the weekends we usually try to get out of town for at least one day and go to a beach or a game park. Sundays are very relaxing, with late breakfasts, lots of laying around, and then 5pm church.


Life is good here 🙂

Week 2

July 15th, 2014 by Laura Prewett
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Last week was my second week at Mseleni Hospital. I am starting to get a better handle on TB and HIV. Both diagnoses are always on a differential. TB can present as anything! I am very much enjoying the patient population here. The children always seem to be  smiling and playful and the mothers are very sweet and thankful for the staff.


Yesterday a visiting pediatrician from Durban who comes to Mseleni once a month for outreach was here. She was such a pleasure to spend time with and learn from. She has been a specialist for about 20 years and has seen everything. I was surprised to hear that even in Durban, she is practicing medicine in a low resource setting. You don’t have to be in the bush to have limited resources. She said that her favorite day of the month is when she comes out to Mseleni because the doctors truly care about their patients and work very hard to provide good evidence based medicine. I definitely agree with her assesment of the staff here.


Last weekend I went to Tembe elephant park. I had never been to a game park or on a game drive. It was such a great experience! We stayed in these luxurious tents with heated blankets and outdoor showers.  I saw so many elephants extremely close up! At the end of our last drive I got to see lions as well! What a weekend!

Week 1

July 7th, 2014 by Laura Prewett
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve completed my first week at Mseleni Hospital. At first I was overwhelmed by the differences between Mseleni and my home institution. Everything from the language, facilities, available resources, personnel, and daily schedule were very different. Not to mention the actual patients and their chief complaints! However, the staff is very helpful, instructive, and friendly. By the end of the week I realized that common paediatric illnesses in the states are also common here, such as cellulitis, pneumonia, diarrhoea, etc… And the treatment guidelines are the same. I still have a lot to learn about TB, HIV, parasites, and malnutrition which I have had very little experience with in the states. By the end of the week I feel like I’ve gotten my footing and I am confident that I can both learn about and contribute to the care of paediatric patients here at Mseleni.


On a different note, the Fredlunds returned from their trip this weekend. I finally gotten to meet Victor and Rachel and they are such lovely people! Also, Rachel makes fresh homemade bread multiple times a day…and it is amazing!


July 2nd, 2014 by Laura Prewett
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mseleni_hosp_entranceYesterday I finally arrived at Mseleni Hospital. It took 3 flights, 3 bus rides, and a total of 30 hours, but I made it! I realized quickly that South Africa is beautiful and the people are very friendly. I found myself dropped off at the Fredlunds house (more like a compound) around dinner time. The main house is amazing, with a wonderful communal space of a large living area, kitchen, dining, and play area. The entire back wall is a window that opens onto a porch overlooking their yard and the beautiful countryside. There are a number of other students/volunteers/doctors staying at the Fredlunds who make me feel immediately welcome and invite me to join them with making and eating a lovely group dinner. It kind of feels like a summer camp of sorts. I am completely exhausted after my travels and headed to bed shortly after dinner. I’m very excited about my first day at the hospital and will report back soon!



Laura Prewett

My First INMED Blog Post

July 1st, 2014 by INMED
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prewett-lauraHello! My name is Laura Prewett. I’m a pediatrician and I’m starting my INMED service-learning experience at Mseleni Hospital in the northeastern corner of South Africa in July 2014.