And so the Botswana Adventure begins!

So we decided to move to Gaborone Botswana! Eeeeeeeek!

The
idea first came up in March 2014 when I met with one of my mentors at
the American Academy of Dermatology meeting to decide what I wanted to
do with my life after residency. I had been throwing around some ideas
of doing a tropical medicine fellowship in Peru, but was given some
great advice – that the best learning experience I could have was to
just learn by doing – to move to a developing country and learn about
how to run a clinic in a resource poor setting first hand. A potential
future opportunity in Botswana was brought up but it was nothing more
than an idea that got me excited and starting to think about the
potential of living and working abroad – something I had always dreamed
about but had no idea how to make it happen.

Later that year I
got the opportunity to do a 6 weeks elective in Gaborone through a
grant award offered by the AAD. I didn’t initially realize but my
elective was my basically my interview for a position that had been in
the works for a while by the Botswana-UPenn Partnership. They were
seeking a full time dermatologist to help create more stability and
continuity of care in the dermatology clinic at Princess Marina Hospital
– the public hospital in Gaborone. For the past 5 years it had been
only staffed by visiting residents from the US – a new one each month
which created major difficulties in patient care. The only other
dermatologist in Botswana had decided to go into private practice 5
years prior – making her services inaccessible to the majority of the
population.  I was part of a small group of candidates being looked at
for the position and after a series of interviews and meetings – I was
offered the job during my last week in Botswana. Luckily Garrett was
able to join me on my trip so he could check things out first hand. To
my surprise – he loved it and was 100% in support of me accepting the
position. So I said yes! Little did we realize this was the easy part –
what followed was a year and a half plus of struggles to make my new job
actually come to fruition. The Botswana UPenn Partnership was creating a
type of position that had never been done before – having a US trained
specialist employed by both a US academic institution and the Ministry
of Health of Botswana. Sounds simple enough right? We found out not at
all! I had to navigate the insane bureaucracy of a foreign government
with no instructions and no one with the slightest idea of what steps to
follow or how long it would take. It took all of 21 months to get the
government to approve my position. Lots of waiting, lots of unknowns
with just a lot of hope to keep us going through all this!

I
am excited and honored to be paving the way for other specialists to
take similar joint positions in Botswana and other developing
nations…but at the same time scared of being in charge of so much! We
have no idea what we are in store for in our new life, but we both agree
that we want to experience as much as we can in our lives! So get ready
Botswana, here we come!

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