Thanks to the MPW travel fund, I spent seven days during the summer in Massachusetts, USA, working on a research project supporting work I had already carried out at my local District General Hospital and a local specialist rehabilitation hospital in Surrey. This included a survey questionnaire for physiotherapists, comparing regimes of rehabilitation physio treatment for the elderly in Surrey with those in Massachusetts.
This experience has aided my application to medical school by giving me a valuable insight into the American healthcare system and teaching me some of the necessary research skills I will need as a doctor. It also gave me an insight into American life and history.
On the first two days of my trip, I shadowed a Physical Therapist (as the Americans call
physiotherapists) and an Occupational Therapist at Epoch Senior Healthcare in Chestnut Hill,
Massachusetts. This was a skilled nursing facility, designed to offer both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care. Having worked on hospital wards where rehabilitation took place, I was amazed to find that Epoch looked more like a luxury hotel than a hospital. Shadowing the two therapists showed me the valuable contribution of these healthcare professionals to the holistic care of the patient.
On the following days, I was at another skilled nursing facility: Wingate Healthcare, Massachusetts.
While shadowing the Physical Therapist there, I saw a variety of patients, from those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis to those recovering from car accidents. Both of these hospitals were in wealthy communities and showed the impressive care rich Americans can receive.
I also enjoyed getting to know Boston and learning about its place in U.S history. From the top of the Prudential Centre, I had a view of the whole city. I was also invited by one of the physiotherapists I met to join them on a whale watch. After two hours I was about to give up on ever seeing a whale, when we were suddenly surrounded by them. It was a beautiful, awe-inspiring sight and one that I will always remember.
My last day in the USA was July 4th. I went to the Independence Day parade in the town I was staying in and joined the crowds lining the streets to cheer the floats. This was a great experience of the “real” – i.e. small-town – America. The Sudbury parade was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by U.S soldiers, past and present. My trip ended watching fireworks, in true 4th-of-July style.
The opportunity to go to Boston broadened my experience and helped me understand better the general value and importance of good rehabilitation practice for both patients and the healthcare system, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of the NHS in the process. It was a fantastic cultural experience and I have made friends for life.