Last updateFri, 29 Apr 2016 3pm

Welsh med student loving volunteer stint at Cruz Verde

Inspired by his grandfather, a physician beloved for giving up a lucrative position in India for service-oriented work, Gney Mehta is spending a month in Guadalajara doing an “elective”  at the Cruz Verde (Green Cross) in Zapopan, a placement designed to improve skills not covered in his core courses at the Cardiff University School of Medicine in Wales, located about three hours due west of London.

From his temporary home with a host family in the vibrant area near the towering Expiatorio church and adjacent plaza, the University of Guadalajara and Avenida Chapultepec, Mehta says Guadalajara “has risen far above my expectations. I’m mesmerized by the people, the beautiful structures, the growth, the construction, the art, the music. There’s a film festival going on, there is chess and dance classes in the street (on Sundays).”

Mehta arranged to come to Guadalajara through an intermediary, Global Medical Projects. A final-year medical student whose parents moved to the United Kingdom many years ago and now reside near Cardiff, he was speaking during a respite from demanding workdays filled with treating trauma in Cruz Verde clinics and ambulances. 

“I’ve learned so much, more than I could have in the U.K., especially about how to manage acute trauma. It’s been very intense. It may be because of my position at Cruz Verde — I’d only done about a month of emergency medicine at home — but here I’ve seen much more trauma in a week than I’ve seen in all my experience at Cardiff. I see a lot of occupational related trauma, a man whose face was blackened when an electrical panel exploded, carpenters requiring stitches for cuts, fractures from falling from a ladder that wasn’t the right kind. A lot of it was preventable, perhaps if there had been more money or training. In the U.K., you get annoyed by all the safety checks, but here I realize how important they are.

“One of the positives is that Mexican medical students are given a lot of independence. So they’re very capable. A senior doctor is always on site though.”

Mehta said his experience in the Cruz Verde with preventable damage is related to a new field of great interest to him — patient safety.  

“It’s the new bugbear in the western world, the harm caused by the medical system itself. We’re trying to raise awareness of it. A founder of the patient safety discipline pointed out that the number of avoidable deaths was equivalent to one jumbo jet crashing per week.”

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