Travel Award to Mongolia & Beijing By Ben Kinsman (U6th, S) Mongolia Over the summer, I spent two weeks in Mongolia, working in the healthcare system, before visiting China. This was made possible by the generosity of the Cheltonian Endowment Trust (CET) who kindly awarded me a travel award.
I transferred to the hotel where I would spend the remainder of my trip and met up with the rest of the group as they arrived from all four corners of the globe. In the early evening we were all introduced to Nayomi, a third-year medical student who would be looking after and teaching us for the next two weeks. She took us out for dinner and, having wandered around the city for a short while, we finally found a restaurant that would fit us all in.
For the majority of the time I spent in Mongolia I was based in Shastin Central Hospital moving between departments observing and occasionally assisting the doctors. One of the main difficulties that I had was that the patients and doctors did not speak much English, however this language barrier was usually overcome through a quick game of Charades or Pictionary. I saw and took part in a number of things that I would have never been able to in a British hospital, such as standing in on multiple surgeries and with the help of a doctor setting up an ECG and then interpreting it. For the most part, the hospital was well equipped with many state-of-the-art pieces of equipment, I was particularly surprised to go in to the radiology department and find them doing CT scans. However, the hospital's main issue
Patients at the Mongolian hospital
The Great Wall of China
was that there was a shortage of specialised individuals due to many doctors moving abroad. In the evenings we had a variety of entertainment ranging from traditional Mongolian throat singing to visits to a traditional medicine museum. However, my favourite evening activity was going out with the ambulance crews and responding to emergency calls or doing house calls for the elderly. We went out in the ambulances twice during my time in Mongolia and both times I was fortunate enough to see a variety of cases including a possible appendicitis, a lady with ovarian cancer who needed transport to the hospital and a drunk man who had to be forcefully removed from the ambulance after verbally abusing the doctor who was trying to treat him. Beijing Having completed my time in Mongolia, I was set to fly back to the UK via Beijing, where I could spend a few days. At the Forbidden City, I learned about the various dynasties and emperors that had ruled over China. It was an enormous complex and the way that the buildings had been designed to withstand large earthquakes was fascinating. I also visited the Temple of Heaven, which was very tranquil, in sharp contrast to the bustling city that surrounds it. On my final day I went to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs, all of which were in much better condition than the Forbidden City and allowed me an insight into the beliefs of the emperors and the lives of the men that lived and worked on the wall. The section of the wall that I saw was in the mountains and had extremely steep sections that were very difficult to climb; however the views were well worth the extra effort as I could see for miles into the distance. â– 43
My first impression of Mongolia was looking out of the airplaneâ€™s window at the vast expanses of empty plains that were sparsely dotted with an occasional Gur (a traditional Mongolian tent). Soon after my arrival in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, I visited the Gandan Tegchenling monastery, where I saw the largest Buddha in Mongolia standing at an impressive 26.5m tall. I went to the National Museum, learning about the history of Mongolia from the stone age (c2000BC), through the Khan dynasty, all the way to gaining independence from the USSR in 1992. I also sampled Mongolian cuisine, consisting of a miniature mountain of unseasoned meat from a variety of animals including camel and goat.
My first experience of the Mongolian medical system was in a community centre where we spent the day assisting a doctor in the running of a clinic for homeless people where they would come to have a check-up and a hot meal. I was in charge of taking the heart rate and the blood pressure of the patients as they arrived before reporting the results to the doctor. Throughout the day I saw over 100 patients ranging from as young as four years old all the way through to 89. One of the patients had a seizure while waiting to be seen; the man suffered from anxiety and had been severely beaten.
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