Although many of our visitors are current medical students and recent graduates, we do have some with more medical experience. This is true of this month’s AMO Photo and Blog Contest Winner, Elsa. Elsa participated in a family medicine clinical experience that took place in Boca Raton, Florida. With almost 20 years under her belt practicing medicine in Chile, Elsa was still able to learn new things during her time with Dr. L. During her clinical experience, Elsa was able to practice her medical English and learn new terminology that will help her as she continues to complete each step of the USMLE.

For information on Elsa’s medical journey in the U.S. and her clinical experience, continue reading below.


It’s Never too Late to Learn Something New

I have to confess that initially, I was afraid to participate in this clinical experience because it was my first one in the U.S. Before coming to the U.S., I worked as a family physician of pediatrics for 18 years in Chile.  Three years ago, love brought me to the U.S., and I decided to begin the journey to practice medicine here. It was all very new to me. First, I took English classes; then, I started studying for the USMLE. So far, I have passed Step 1 and 2 CK. After studying for these steps, I realized I didn’t know much about the U.S. health care system, interacting with patients here, and the names of medications and lab orders.

At first, I  worried that language would be a barrier; it was this aspect of the clinical experience that made me feel especially nervous. From the first day, though, the team at the clinic was so kind.  I spoke to the doctor about my main goal for the experience, which was to improve my English and communication skills. He reassured me that we would work on this, and we did. In the beginning, I did not talk very much, but in time I began to feel more confident.

The physician, Dr. L, had me prepare a topic to explain to fellow team members, which helped a lot. He also encouraged me to interview patients. Some had different accents, which allowed me to learn even more. I was surprised that many patients asked me where I was from and why I was there. When I told them my story, they told me I was doing a great job. They showed admiration for the changes I was making.  Many said, “learning something new can be a challenge, and doing it in a different language is awesome.” Their words of encouragement pushed me to do my best.

During the experience, I also had the opportunity to exchange medical knowledge with the staff, including how we approach and treat diseases in my country. With this pandemic, I’ve realized that viruses can be the same in many countries. A patient’s suffering and the medicine they need to get better is the same in most places. Some countries have more technology than others, but doctors always have the same job; they must listen, examine, and treat a patient, no matter their conditions.

I’m very grateful for the experience. I met incredible people. Not only were the doctors and their staff great, but the medical assistant was also too! She and the front desk workers were very supportive. A special thanks to Ashley, my AMO Coach, for allowing me to live this experience. I’ll tell you what; it’s never is too late for anything!


Interested in participating in the same clinical experience as Elsa?

Explore Family Medicine Experiences in Boca Raton, Florida >