A group of medical students, from the USA, recently spent two weeks with us at The Banyan. We were impressed with the way they worked with the residents during their stay. They shared their experiences with us ….
“We are a group of medical students from the University of Texas Health Science Centre at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) who interned under Dr. Weiss at The Banyan.
We performed physical exams on all of the residents at Adaikalam during our two-week stay in Chennai. We really enjoyed experiencing mental health first hand; we found it humbling to view the happiness of the residents regardless of their circumstance.
It was always a joyful occasion to be greeted at the gates of The Banyan to music, dancing, and smiling faces. We learned a lot from Dr. Weiss and the healthcare workers about patience, compassion, and hard-work.
This not only supplemented our medical knowledge but also our cultural proficiency. We are so grateful to have been welcomed into The Banyan family.”
And here are some excerpts from an email from one of the students, after they returned to Texas, to Dr. Renu Weiss, The Banyan’s Medical Director:
“Hi Dr. Weiss,
Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had reflecting on my experience at the Banyan, some of this you may have already heard from me:
I was previously a little intimidated to work with mental health patients as I was under the impression that they are wildly unpredictable and sometimes violent. The ladies at the Banyan were successful in helping me overcome these fears, as they were very kind and welcoming of my presence. When the healthcare workers told us stories about the ladies getting violent, it was with laughter, so it is apparently nothing that cannot be overcome. This ease of my previous concern, along with the attachments that were formed to some of the patients allowed me to experience that working with mental health patients can be very rewarding.
While at a clinic in Kenya, I made friends with a Kenyan nursing student named Esther. One day I asked Esther how she could bear to see so many hungry children everyday. Esther told me, essentially I don’t remember the direct quote, that she had a hard life growing up and that those hungry children should work as hard as she did. While I understand that I was born into very privileged circumstances by virtue of the fact that I was born American, Esther’s sentiment has never settled well with me. When I asked Leela, the Nursing Superintendent at The Banyan, why she cared about the women at The Banyan she said “Because they are human beings,” with consternation in her voice too! As if she couldn’t understand why I would ask such a question! Right on, Leela! I appreciate the opportunity to work with so many compassionate individuals who want to care for the patients of The Banyan because it’s the right thing to do.
In a few short words, what I gained from my experience at The Banyan was an opportunity to overcome some unnecessary fears, and to learn from the example of an organization, a group of workers, and one individual what it means to commit yourself to compassionate service of a worthy population. I hope this gives you some insight as to what was important, at least for me, in this experience. And don’t sweat the profanity, an impassioned rant or two (so long as it’s not aimed at anyone present), was an effective tool for expressing concern for your patients.
Thank you for the opportunity to learn, and for the good times too. I look forward to talking with you again soon.”
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