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Katherine Jossi
March 30, 2020

Interning Abroad: Beloit student talks working in health care in Spain

Earlier this month, The Office of International Education sat down with Dulce Saenz ’20, a biochemistry and health and society double major, to talk about her semester abroad in Alicante, Spain. We talked about everything from her internship at a private ophthalmological hospital to living with a host family.

What’s your major? And where did you study abroad?

I am a double majoring in Biochemistry and Health and Society. I am also minoring in Spanish. I studied abroad in Alicante, Spain.

Why did you choose to study in Alicante, Spain?

I chose to study abroad in Alicante, Spain because to enhance my Spanish speaking and writing skills. My main reason for studying in Spain was to learn medical terminology in Spanish. Being a native Spanish-speaker I was exposed to some medical terminology but not as intensive as during my study abroad experience. I also choose to study abroad in Alicante because of the beautiful beaches (La Playa Postiguet and La Playa San Juan) it has because Alicante is on “la costa Blanca” (the white coast) of the Mediterranean sea. Another reason for studying in Alicante was that I was able to have guidance from the coordinators of the CIEE (The Council on International Educational Exchange). If I had any questions I could always rely on having guidance from the coordinators and they would follow up to make sure I received the proper information. An advantage of CIEE is that they give a lot of scholarships for students who want to study abroad through their program. CIEE granted me the Travel Award and the CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant to study abroad in Alicante, Spain.

What was it like living with a host family?

Living with a host family made my experience in Spain better. My host mother is a social worker and my host father is a chef. My siblings go to elementary and high school. My host family helped with enhancing my Spanish-Speaking skills and with the exposure of the Spanish culture. Having younger children in the house helped with immersion into the culture. My host sister and I would dance flamenco together. My host siblings were always eager to share some of their favorite Spanish snacks such as Horchata de Chufa (Tigernut horchata), Mantecadas (Muffins), and Jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham). My host family was always attentive to my needs and if I needed guidance they were always willing to help. What I miss most of my host family is having dinner as a family without any phone distractions and having paella (Spanish rice) every other Sunday. Being with a host family enforced the idea that meals are meant to be enjoyed and valued. I consider my host family as a family of my own because they were very nice to me and they opened up their home and their family to me.

What was the focus of the work you did at Vissum?

During my time studying abroad in Spain, I took an internship course that connected me to the private ophthalmological hospital called Vissum. What I loved the most about my internship was that I had the chance to shape the focus of the internship. I choose between medical rotations or be in the biochemistry lab analysis of DNA samples. I chose to do medical rotations because I was curious to see how doctors practice medicine in Spain. I also wanted to expand my medical terminology in Spanish.

What did an average day at Vissum look like for you?

Depending on what the coordinator in charge of the interns scheduled me for that day I either had to go to consult or go into the operating room. Every day of the internship was different because I was shadowing doctors, optometrist, and nurses with different specialties. I had the chance to shadow doctors who are specialized in cornea, retina, pediatric ophthalmology, anesthesia, and oculoplastic. I almost shadowed the whole hospital which was a unique experience because I got to experience different occupations that make up the medical field. This is an important aspect to see as a pre-medicine student because I got to observe how different parts of medicine communicate to help patients get the best diagnosis and plan of treatment. One of my favorite specialties I shadowed in Vissum was with Dr. Amesty who specializes in oculoplastic and orbital surgery, pediatric ophthalmology, and strabismus. I had the privilege to shadow Doctor Amesty in consultation and the operating room. My favorite case I witnessed was a surgery of a boy who was blind in one eye, Dr. Amestry performed keratopigmentation, which is the reconstruction of cosmetic appearance in the severely impaired eye, “like tattooing the eye”. Doctor Amesty does not just perform surgery, she improves the lives of her patients to give them a comfortable life. Doctor Amesty is my role model and I aspire to be a role model for others as she has been one for me.

How did the internship connect with your studies at Beloit College?

The internship connects to my studies in Beloit by being a Biochemistry major (pre-medicine) and a Spanish minor. I was able to shadow many doctors with different specialties in ophthalmology which allowed me to explore different fields of medicine, this was a very unique and important experience as I gathered skills and experiences to build my resume for the medical school application. When shadowing the doctors in Vissum in consultation and the operating room I was able to learn medical terminology in Spanish and translate it into English. I have a notebook with all the medical terminology I learned during my internship because I wanted to remember things when it came time to write my statement for medical school. The unique aspect of this internship was that I got the chance to see how my two passions, medicine, and the Spanish language will come into play when I become a doctor. I hope that I can bridge the language barrier in the medical field.

What was the most important or interesting thing you learned while interning for them?

I cannot pinpoint one important thing that I learned while interning at Vissum. I narrowed the list down to three important things I learned from my internship in Vissum: bridge the language barrier in medicine, be a humble doctor, and practice medicine with passion.

What do you think the value is of interning abroad?

The value of interning abroad is priceless. I am forever grateful for the internship opportunity I got through my study abroad program CIEE in Alicante, Spain. Being a Biochemistry Major in Beloit requires a lot of hours of work, by studying abroad I was able to complete 120 hours of shadowing. The internship abroad helped me connect and interact with the Alicante community. I was able to learn medical terminology and expand my Spanish vocabulary. Vissum was my second family in Spain. I will never forget the medical staff, the intern coordinators, and the interns from different parts of the world of how they impacted my life. I hope to visit Vissum again one day.

Contact:

Katherine Jossi
oie@beloit.edu

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