August 20, 2012
Austin Oberlin (center), a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major at The College of Wooster, visits with a group of children from the Akaa village of Ghana during his medical humanitarian internship through the Lilly Project for the Exploration of Vocation.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Not only did Austin Oberlin discover his aptitude for the medical profession, but he also uncovered an affinity for traveling and trying things he never thought he would during an eight-week medical humanitarian internship in Ghana this past summer.
“Although I learned a lot about medicine and culture, most of all I gained an appreciation for taking chances,” said Oberlin, a resident of Upper Arlington and a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major at The College of Wooster. He secured his “dream” internship by working through Wooster’s Lilly Project for the Exploration of Vocation.
The adventure began as soon as he was selected. “I never really imagined myself actually applying (for) and winning a medical humanitarian internship,” he said. Little did he know that he was about to embark upon a remarkable journey of self-discovery.
Perhaps his most meaningful lesson came from living with a group that included two South Africans, who gave him a new and “invaluable” perspective on life. “It is something you don't think about when you prepare for a humanitarian experience,” he said, “but the people that you live with are possibly more important than the experience itself.”
When searching for a humanitarian program that would best suit his specific needs and goals, Oberlin applied the research skills he acquired at Wooster, and settled on Humanity World International in Ghana, which would give him an opportunity to work directly with patients. It would also give him a chance to observe another culture and learn the local language (Twi).
Oberlin was assigned to Teshie-Nungua, which is southeast of the city center of Accra, where he interned in a medium-sized hospital. He spent three weeks in the pharmacy, three weeks in the insurance office, and the final two weeks with a physician, a physical therapist, and a lab technician.
In the pharmacy, Oberlin was entrusted with the important responsibility of filling prescriptions and informing patients about their medications. In the insurance office, he handled claim information and then sent it to the national health insurance office at the end of the month. His favorite part of the job was working in a consulting room with an obstetrician where he gained hands-on experience in treating a variety of diseases and illnesses including gastroenteritis, anemia, and malaria.
Oberlin credits his education at Wooster for preparing him to learn about medicine, and the Lilly Program for getting him ready for his individual fellowship and making sure that he wasn't caught off guard by anything he experienced.
- Story by Libby Fackler ‘13
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