Meredith Miller, M.D., of Raleigh, North Carolina is Project HOPE’s first recipient of the Dr. Charles A. Sanders International Residency Scholarship. The scholarship, which is funded by the North Carolina GSK Foundation, provides funding for medical residents from the state of North Carolina to practice medicine in a supervised capacity at one of Project HOPE’s program sites in the developing world. Dr. Miller spent one month in early 2013 practicing medicine at the Herrera and Monte Plata clinics in the Dominican Republic.
While in the Dominican Republic, I am spending the majority of my time at the two primary care clinics established by Project HOPE in coordination with the Order of Malta, a Dominican NGO. One of the clinics is in Herrera, an impoverished urban region in the capital city of Santo Domingo, and the other is in Monte Plata, a rural region. At both clinics, I am being exposed to patients of all ages suffering from common medical problems found in the Dominican Republic.
With the supervision of local pediatricians, I am performing numerous well-child exams for young children, many of whom suffer from similar ailments that I see in the U.S., such as ear infections and viral upper respiratory tract infections. I am also encountering medical illnesses less common in the States. For example, I have seen numerous children suffering from acute diarrhea. Many children here also suffer from more chronic gastrointestinal complaints coupled with poor growth and malnutrition - often being found to have a parasitic infection as well.
I am gaining experience recognizing and treating endemic diseases such as amoebiasis, giardia and dengue fever. The laboratory technicians have even called me back to see parasites under the microscope! I am learning the importance of zinc supplementation after diarrheal illness as well as Vitamin A supplementation for all children in the developing world. These WHO recommendations were previously unfamiliar to me, but are of utmost importance outside the developed world.
As a Sanders Scholar in the Dominican Republic, I am being very well provided for. I have been staying in a hotel in Santo Domingo while working in the Herrera clinic, and I stayed in an on-site house, which was a short, ten-second walk from the clinic in Monte Plata. The weather is warm, sunny, and beautiful. The food prepared for me in the house in Monte Plata was well-balanced and delicious. A recent weekend excursion to the Samana Peninsula was a nice reprieve after the work week. I spent two days there resting and reading on the expansive sandy beaches and wading in the clear blue water.
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