UQ medical student Sean Mitchell working with high school students in Rwanda
UQ medical student Sean Mitchell working with high school students in Rwanda
6 February 2009

UQ postgraduate Sean Mitchell tested both sides of his brain recently in Africa as part of his medical studies.

Using his science and French language skills, Mr Mitchell spent six weeks in Rwanda as part of an elective undertaken through the School of Medicine.

In conjunction with St John’s Ambulance, Mr Mitchell spent the first two weeks with a colleague teaching 200 Rwandan high school students basic first aid in the French language.

He then went on to spend four weeks at the Nyanza District Hospital working in the maternity and surgery departments where he saw donated equipment from Brisbane hospitals put to good use.

UQ students are involved with Towards International Medical Equality (TIME), which sent almost $15 000 of equipment to hospitals all over the world last year.

Prior to commencing his studies in medicine Mr Mitchell completed a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts dual degree, with his knowledge of French proving invaluable during his visit.

”Most of the doctors and nurses were trained either in Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo, and as such French was used clinically for communication between the staff, and also between the Congolese doctors and their patients,” he said.

“This also meant that doctors were accessing Francophone clinical aids from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.”

Mr Mitchell said he was fortunate to have studied several different disciplines at university before deciding to become a doctor.

“An Arts degree offers a great opportunity to explore both the theoretical underpinnings of various intellectual movements and critique your own way of thinking.

“Having a strong understanding of who you are, the way you think and what you stand for before you begin to study medicine will make you a better doctor at the end of the day.”

In the future, Mr Mitchell hoped to improve his clinical French so he could work in places such as Rwanda with Médecins Sans Frontières.

Media: Wendy Burford at UQ Arts (07 3346 7898, w.burford@uq.edu.au) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)