You always hear that the best way to learn a new language is to practice, but this summer this UChicago student took it to the next level. Meredith Wells is in the middle of an immersive Portuguese medical interpreting training in Brazil, spending her mornings learning Portuguese and her afternoons working with doctors in the local hospital. She shares what she wishes she kept in mind during her internship search, and why she decided to spend the summer doing something a little a-typical for a pre-med.
Name: Meredith Wells
Job Title: Intern at Hospital Estadual da Criança em Feira de Santana
Location: Salvador, Brazil
Year: Rising 4th
Major: Neuroscience (pre-med)
What are you doing this summer?
I’m doing an immersive Portuguese medical interpreting training in Brazil, so I split my time between Portuguese classes, where I learned vocabulary, and the hospital, where I shadow a doctor (and get to practice what I learned in class).
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I hope to be a physician one day! But honestly as I continue to explore health care systems and see what potential roles I could see myself playing, it could change!
How did you get your internship?
Last summer, I interned at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital working in their Cell and Molecular Biology Department as well as participating in their clinical observations program. The team from St. Jude’s put me in contact with Dr. Dorea, who works at Hospital Estadual da Criança em Feira de Santana, a sister hospital for St. Jude.
What do you wish you had known during your internship search?
I wish I had remembered to keep an open mind and cast a large net when looking for internships. It is so stressful looking for internships and such a pressure to get THE internship. I think it would have saved me some stress if I had just kept an adventurous spirit and just trusted the process.
What does a day in the life look like?
My day starts with Portuguese class. I get to school at 9 and that goes until 12:30. I eat lunch with my classmates, usually at a little restaurant around the corner from school and depending on the day, I continue with afternoon class or head to the hospital to shadow Dr. Dorea.
At the hospital, it’s always a little crazy! I meet Dr. Dorea in the physicians reading room while she preps for the afternoon patients coming in with her team. I jump in and usually review my medical terminology for the day.
After the team of doctors and nurses is ready, we break and I shadow Dr. Dorea until she has seen all of her patients for the day. Sometimes it’s just a couple hours, other times we work well into the evening if there’s a long patient list. After, I review my medical terminology with her as well as any phrases I didn’t understand.
Then I head home! I live in a student residence here so I either make or go to dinner with the Brazilian students here at the end of the day.
How has this job changed what you see yourself doing in the future?
It hasn’t changed much, but rather reinforced the things that I am interested in. I am interested in health care accessibility, which I have discovered is an incredibly broad and intricate topic. I know I want to continue studying different healthcare systems, health care policies, role of socioeconomic status and race of patients, availability of resources, access to translational science, etc. both in the US and abroad.