Reflections on the Guyana Elective

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dr. Tariq Jagnarine, Dr. Aneisha Moore, Dr. Tamica Daniels-Willamson, Dr. Mahendra Raghunauth, Dr. Chuck Adamson, Dr. Krystle Fraser, Dr. Indira Bhoj, Dr. Maude B. Perras, Dr. Sahodra Rambharose, Dr. Kampta Prashad and Dr. Kwesi Vancooten

Driven by a lifelong desire to give back to society and help those in need, Dr. Maude B. Perras, a PGY2 resident at the Montfort Unit, has always had a strong interest in Global Health. Her previous experiences in under-resourced and marginalized populations as a medical student led to her interest in the Guyana elective, where residents spend one month working in community health centres and hospital settings in Georgetown, Guyana.

Dr. Perras was first drawn to family medicine for its personal, individual approach to providing care. “I feel privileged to be close to my patients, to know their personal stories,” said Dr. Perras. This outlook has been very influential in her development as a learner, a physician and a humanitarian. The availability of Global Health opportunities for family medicine residents was a main factor in her decision to come to uOttawa, in addition to its setting and highly-regarded program. As a medical student, Dr. Perras participated in an international elective in Tanzania, a formative experience that influenced her personal perspective and fostered a desire to have an impact beyond her own local community. The DFM’s established Family Medicine Residency Program in Guyana provided the support necessary to allow her to travel and learn from Guyanese physicians, immerse herself in Guyana’s healthcare system, and learn about their unique culture. It was an opportunity she simply could not overlook - and she was not disappointed!

Reflecting on her time in Guyana, Dr. Perras was inspired by the extraordinary dedication of her Guyanese colleagues despite major disparities in the availability of resources and access to care that we are accustomed to in Canada. “They showed me how to be the best possible advocate for my patients,” she described, “While their knowledge of medicine was exceptional, resources are very limited. They helped me appreciate the importance of even the smallest gestures when it comes to caring for my patients.” She was also touched by the collaborative efforts of local physicians and volunteers from around the world working together to improve medical education and service delivery. She gained a strong appreciation for Guyana’s needs and challenges at local and national levels, and will be able to apply these valuable lessons to other settings in her training and future career, particularly given her interest in working in rural communities.

“Getting out of my comfort zone and day-to-day routine, and exploring what is done elsewhere will help me to be a better family physician,” said Dr. Perras, “You gain wisdom by learning from others, and you appreciate what you bring to the table as well,” she added. It was an experience she highly recommends to her fellow residents. “I had such a wonderful journey, and it was an easy experience to organize,” she said. “If more learners go every year, we can help provide more resources to local learners, and get future teachers like myself to return!” 

Dr. Perras was the first-ever recipient of the DFM Global Health Travel Bursary, which was established to support learners to participate in Global Health initiatives. Consider a donation to the fund and help future learners to have life-changing journeys like Dr. Perras. Thank you for your support!

For more information about the Guyana elective, please visit the Department of Family Medicine website.

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