This summer, Sara Miller ’19 spent four weeks in Costa Rica and had the chance to visit her family and learn from doctors at La Hospital Catolica in San Jose.
A typical day for Miller began with breakfast and Costa Rica’s famous coffee, before making the hour drive to the hospital. Every day Miller reported to Helen, a nurse who planned Miller’s daily schedule. She spent time in all areas of the hospital, including radiology, a laboratory, intensive care unit, cardiology, the maternity wing, and the emergency room.
In the cardiology department, Miller witnessed ultrasounds of the heart, angioplasties, and catheterizations. She said one of her favorite experiences was watching a doctor fix a girl’s broken arm in the emergency room after reviewing her x-rays.
While most of her time was spent watching doctors, Miller also had several exciting hands-on experiences. One day a doctor invited Miller to observe him performing stitches. “He had me cut the strings and disinfect stuff. That was the coolest thing ever and I was smiling for hours straight afterwards,” said Miller.
Part of what made Miller’s time so enjoyable was the welcome she received from the staff. Miller speaks Spanish, but most of the medical terminology was new to her, and the staff was always willing to help out. “I just had to ask lots of questions if I didn’t know what something meant. I had to be really confident,” said Miller. One day during his free time, the head nurse offered to teach Miller how to apply electrodes.
To St. John’s students, Miller said, “I would recommend an experience like this because then you know [if it’s the right path]. Now I know for sure that I want to do something health related. It’s what I expected in the sense that you get to talk to and interact with a lot of different people, so every day is different.”