There are many things that never stop surprising me about Berlin, and Germany! I’ve come to have a true appreciation for the people, the city, the culture… I don’t think I could have picked a better time in my studies to spend an extended period overseas for the first time, either. My host family has helped make my experience here even better, although I don’t see them as much as I’d like to – there has just been so much to do and see (in addition to having quite the full schedule)! I am a pre-medical student, and with all that has been going on during the program, I’ve spent considerably less time being involved in some of the premed activities I’m used to, like shadowing. I have been lucky to be able to shadow my host mother Friederike, who is a general practice physician at a private clinic in Mitte.
I knew going into this experience that there would be tremendous differences in the way German healthcare works compared to the US, but I wasn’t expecting much of what I’ve seen. I could write on and on about my general observations, feelings, comparisons, points of surprise, and things I think Germany does that better or worse than what I am used to, but here I’ll just touch on one of the big “takeaways” I have gotten through shadowing Friederike: that I have so much respect for her, and for the work that she does. From what I’ve seen at home, she is a very caring and thoughtful person by nature, and I’ve always been able to imagine her easily as a great doctor. After seeing her firsthand applying her commendable traits at her very demanding job, working with people who trust her and are always very thankful for her kindness, I was brought to respecting her even more and actually looking toward her as a role model for how I want to be as a physician one day. She always keeps a clear mind and a smile on her face while still looking out for her patients’ best interests and being very thorough and honest. She works hard, too, in one of the developed countries in the world with the lowest-paid doctors (in recent years there’s been a doctor shortage). There was a period of about two hours where I watch her attend to about 15 patients, all of whom were satisfied with her level of care and ability to help.
I hope I can find at least one more day to spend at her clinic before finishing up the rest of the program. My professional interests involve patient care as well as studying how healthcare systems function, and I’d love to learn more about what works and doesn’t work in healthcare between the US and Germany, two of the world’s largest and most innovative nations.