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CHP Program Alumna and Student Ambassador: Mira from United States, Concord Academy

Written by Czech Hospital Placements on Friday, December 13, 2019

CHP Program, Student Ambassador, CHP Program Review, medical student, specialty placement, being a mentee in hospital

In late 2019 we started with CHP Student Ambassadors' network and we would like to introduce you Mira, student of Concord Academy who participated in the CHP Program this summer with her friend RJ. We are very proud to receive here such talented young students. What are Mira's tips and tricks on medical shadowing? How to be a great mentee? What would Mira advise to students who think about applying to the CHP Program or other specialty shadowing programs?

What was your motivation to do a hospital placement abroad?

As a high school student interested in a career in health care, I was looking for an opportunity to see first-hand what working in a hospital is like. While I knew I was interested in working in healthcare I didn’t know whether becoming a doctor was a career I wanted to pursue, so I was so excited for the unique opportunity to shadow real health care professionals as a young student. I am also interested in medical history, and I plan to create a syllabus for a history class on the intersection of gender, race, and medical intervention. Being able to work in an actual hospital gave me an understanding of the medical field that will help me in that research. I also love to travel and I have never been to Prague before so I was excited to explore a foreign city and learn more about Czech culture!  

How did you prepare for your experience?

I prepared for my internship at CHP by reading through all of the course study materials provided and bringing all of the items listed on the packing list! Going into the program as a 17-year-old, I did not have much experience in health care. I made sure to study and learn hospital procedures and my specific responsibilities as an intern. I also tried to learn some basic Czech words and phrases and research fun activities to do while in Prague! 

Was were the most interesting/decisive moments of your placement?

All of my experiences in the Hospital were fascinating as I was constantly learning and trying to absorb as much as I could. I guess if I had to pick one experience that was the most impactful for me was seeing births while working in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I had never seen a live birth other than in videos and so it was amazing to see a small life come into the world right in front of my eyes. I was in awe of the simultaneously mundane procedure for the doctors and completely life-changing moments for the new mother and father. I ended up writing about this in my personal essay for college applications so I would say it was pretty amazing! 

What approach and qualities should a good mentor and a good mentee possess?

A good mentor is kind, approachable, and knowledgeable who goes out of their way to help teach their mentees about their work. A good mentor is respectful, friendly, hard-working, and attentive. My mentor in the Children’s Heart Center’s catheterization lab, Andrea, immediately made me feel welcome by not only taking time to explain her job and the different operations they performed but also asking me about my interests and life. Andrea took the time during every surgery to answer my questions and encouraged me to ask questions to the surgeons too. In between surgeries we would sit in the break room and drink tea and talk. It was fascinating to talk to these health care professionals about their lives, TV shows, and even politics. As a mentee, I tried my best to not interfere with my mentors work while still being excited and engaged. I made sure to take notes on everything that was happening that day and ask questions when I was confused. I also made an effort to get to know the staff in the Children’s Heart Center: get to know your mentors they are amazing people!

What do you think about the Czech healthcare system and the differences with the one in your country?

Czech healthcare and American healthcare are very different. When I heard that the Czech Republic provides universal healthcare I immediately viewed this as an extremely positive attribute. In the US, because there is no universal healthcare program, many people cannot afford treatment and avoid going to the hospital until they are severely ill. I am a supporter of universal healthcare in the US, but it was enlightening to see some of the challenges this program has in Prague. When I talked to my mentors, they expressed how because healthcare is free, some people choose to take advantage of the system which is frustrating for healthcare professionals who need to focus on the most urgently ill patients. They also told me how many doctors choose to leave the Czech Republic to work in other European countries because doctors have higher salaries in some other countries. I had never considered these struggles before as I had only seen the suffering caused by the burden of high medical costs on patients in the US.

What are your goals and wishes regarding your career?

I’m not sure exactly what I want to do with my career yet, but as of now I know I am interested in healthcare and working with children. I hope to discover a specific career I want to pursue while I’m studying in college. I am a people person, so I know I want a career that directly impacts the community I live in. I am considering pursuing medicine, but I also could imagine myself working as a clinical psychologist or in healthcare policy. CHP gave me a great first-hand experience to help me understand what my responsibilities would be as a doctor!

What would you advise other students who think of doing a similar thing?

If you are hardworking and interested in medicine at all, CHP is the perfect program for you. My advice is to take advantage of this amazing opportunity! In the U.S., hospitals don’t allow students to shadow them until they are in medical school, with the exception of maybe a few college upperclassmen. By that time, however, you will have had to already decide if the medicine is the career for you. CHP provides a unique opportunity to shadow amazing doctors even in high school! Working in the Children’s Heart Center and Obstetrics and Gynecology gave me a realistic perspective on the job of a doctor so that I wasn’t making my decision to pursue medicine based on fictional TV shows! Prague is such a wonderful city, so even if you’re tired in the afternoons, I highly recommend heading out into the city to explore! My advice is to come prepared, believe in yourself, and have fun! 

In case you would like to know more about the CHP Program, please get in touch with us. We are happy to answer all your questions. 

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