Annie Yu is a General Biology major (’13). She came across the Global Health minor winter quarter of 2011, when it had first became available. After taking Professor Jenkin’s Global Health and Cultural Diversity, she became very interested in this minor.

Annie spent 2 months in Mongolia with Projects Abroad. She joined the medicine program and shadowed doctors at the Epidemiology Hospital of Ulaanbaatar.

Organization’s website: http://www.projects-abroad.org/

Here’s Annie sharing her experience:

I mainly shadowed Dr. Bachka at the clinical section of the Epidemiology Hospital. From 9am to 4pm, I would follow her to examine patients. The diseases I saw ranged from chicken pox to hepatitis. About once a week, I would shadow other doctors in the hospital for a day and experience other departments in the hospital, including children hepatitis, statistics, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. One time, I went out of the capital with doctor and nurses to visit families living in the traditional Mongolian tents, “gers,” out in the grasslands. For two days, I studied at the bacteriology department and learned how to use patients’ samples to culture bacteria.

Biggest problem was language problem. Although the doctors I shadowed could speak English, they were not fluent in it and at times it was hard for me to understand. Fortunately, my supervisor lent me her medical dictionary and I studied from it. Besides the environment and treatments, medical laws can be completely different in countries. Here in U.S., we believe in patient’s right to learn his/her condition but in Mongolia, family members have the right to hide the patient’s condition if they believe that the patient will be harmed if the patient knows.

My supervisor took me on a tour in Ulaabaatar. We went to a famous Buddhist temple, natural history museum, and a nearby shopping center. My host family took me on a vacation to visit Chingis Khann’s statue and stayed at a hotel of gers out in the grassland. I was fortunate enough to be able to join in Mongolia’s biggest national holiday, Naadam. Together with other students from the organization, we watched the grand opening of Naadam festival and even went to the countryside ourselves to watch the famous children horse racing contest.

I’ve joined the Cancer Outreach Team to improve my communication skill when interacting with strangers which I wish I could have done better when I was in Mongolia. Academically, I continue to take classes for the minor. After my experience in Mongolia, I have decided that I’d like to join Doctors without Borders.