It is a privilege to be able to spend time at health institutions being exposed at first hand to the practice and day-to-day work that takes place there. Among the many areas I was able to visit were chemistry, hematology, and microbiology specialist laboratories.
In most of these, the experience I had was both interesting and valuable on a learning level. The training, the information shared with me, the interactions I was able to have with staff, and the environment all contributed to my being able to learn and experience more. I was generally assigned a specific mentor – a member of the staff of the institution who guided me and instructed me as we observed the happenings together. I was also assisted by numerous staff members when able to “try things out” such as working with the resources available. The “hands-on” nature of much of the learning was very valuable, as I was able to see how instruments worked and experience the way in which the theoretical knowledge that was being shared with me, was used practically in the real-life situations I observed.
Mentors or guides also communicated much of their experience with me. Again, their experience, shared with me, was very valuable as it gave me perspective on how their everyday work relates to the theoretical knowledge I am learning. It was also important for me to be able to share my opinions and thoughts. With most staff at the institutions, this was encouraged. The conversations I had, and the questions I asked, were enjoyable, interesting, and mutually respectful. I did not feel as if I was imposing on their time, or that I had nothing to offer. Instead, the majority of people listened to me with interest, and debated with me, even when I was wrong. I felt that I was able to speak openly, and ask questions, and give opinions without embarrassment or fear, since I would receive positive, thoughtful, and meaningful responses.
Perhaps of most value to me, and