Palau is a small island nation in Micronesia located between Guam and the Philippines. Before this elective, I had never practiced medicine outside of the United States and, to be honest, had never even heard of Palau. I was surprised that, as a PGY- 1, I had the privilege of going abroad as part of my Emergency Medicine residency training.
At Belau National Hospital (BNH), I was allowed to practice as an independent Emergency Medicine physician. As the only hospital in Palau, all emergencies came to us. Many patients presented with infections or minor trauma; however, with increasing tourism and Western influence in Palau, locals have developed many chronic illnesses that also plague the United States. The doctors come from around the world and boast decades of experience from a wide array of specialties including hyperbaric medicine. On my days off, I went scuba diving through coral gardens and shipwrecks with manta rays, sharks, and huge schools of fish. I also snorkeled in Jellyfish Lake, fished along the reefs, and explored the rich culture of Palau with local friends. Overall, this experience was unforgettable, and can’t wait to return.