Had this been my bathrobe's first trip to Africa, my first day at the hospital probably would have resulted me packing my bags for home.
Residency involves switching rotations every couple of months. It's basically like starting a brand new job just as you've started to settle into your old one. So, after several years of this routine, I have pretty low expectations for a smooth transition on the first day. Things like not being sure what to wear, or where exactly you're supposed to show up are a given. Hearing your new supervisor respond, "Oh! Are you supposed to start today?" when you introduce yourself is also a common occurrence. However, today took things to a whole new level.
I arrived at the hospital at 8am. The hospital is a sprawling compound of buildings and shelters, including several hen houses and a goat stable. Many of the waiting "rooms" are open air rows of benches.
At the front gate, I asked where I could find my supervisor, "Dr. Pius" and was directed towards the antenatal clinic. The nurses there instructed me to, "sit and wait" which I did amongst 100 or so very pregnant women. After about an hour of waiting, the head nurse, Sister Alice called me in to confirm what I was doing there. Then, she started calling around to find Dr. Pius. After another hour or so, I was invited to join the nurses for tea and then started helping them with some of their prenatal assessments. Finally, Sister Alice found one of the other Ob/Gyn attendings and asked if he had seen Dr. Pius. He replied, "Dr. Pius? I believe he is out of the country."
It would have been somewhere around this time that I would have thought about packing my bags, had I not been trying my hardest to roll with the punches. As it turns out, the rest of the afternoon turned out ok. I met a few more of the attendings and many of the interns. I stuck around the Labour ward and delivered a couple of healthy babies. The midwives seem pretty happy to have me there, and and the other attending staff were very accommodating and interested in knowing about my objectives for the rotation.
All in all, I would say that it has been a pretty, par for the course kind of first day on the new rotation. I'm definately heading back for more tomorrow.