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A Year at Mosvold hospital

My year as community service doctor at Mosvold Hospital in Ingwavuma was really great! Different people look for different things in their year as CSO’s, but I certainly experienced most of what I had hoped for in this year. Clinical experience, an idea of how a peripheral hospital works, interaction with the community you’re serving, exploration of a part of our country with which I wasn’t too familiar, learning something of a different culture and language - these are some of the goals I set myself before the year started.

You probably never reach all your goals, but I must say that I did quite well. In terms of clinical medicine I became very much acquainted with HIV and how to try and deal with the chronically ill patient. Medicine and IV fluid are definitely not the most important parts of the care for these patients. Every doctor (and every person that works with patients) must at some time realize that he is there to help the patient and nothing else. It is not about how much you now of diabetic keto-acidosis, maple syrup urine disease or congestive cardiac failure, but whether you made the patient feel better. My year at Mosvold taught me a lot about patients and their needs. My basic surgical skills also improved substantially: Caesarean sections, tubal ligations and manipulations under anaesthesia are not problems at all.

Something you become acutely aware of is the fact that you are a part of the greater medical team. We - as a small rural hospital - are almost at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak, and you have to get used to the idea that patients sometimes need services which we cannot render and that you’ll have to make sure that they get those services. This can unfortunately be very frustrating sometimes. It teaches patience and perseverance though!

The area of northern KwaZulu is beautiful and gives you many opportunities which you should definitely use. Birdwatching, gamedriving, scuba diving, turtle spotting and beach bumming are but a few!

In summary: my year at Mosvold was really fantastic. If you are thinking of coming here to do community service, be ready to face some challenges, but also to make the best of a year you’ll never have again and gain experience you won’t get anywhere else.

A humble bush doctor
Johannes Marais


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