Face to Face - Into Africa

Into Africa

Cutaneous anthrax. Rubella. Malaria. AIDS.

image: Into AfricaThese are just a few of the diseases that Dr. Megan Shaughnessy, a 2001 Saint Mary's College alumna, identified and treated while working in Tanzania during her fourth year of medical school at the University of Minnesota.

“I worked at a hospital run by an American doctor in partnership with Tanzanian doctors,” says Megan. “By Tanzanian standards, it was a decent hospital. But lab service was poor, pregnant women had to walk two miles for an ultrasound, x-rays were processed by hand, and all patients were in one big room. There was no isolation, even for highly contagious diseases like tuberculosis.”

A couple of times each week, Megan staffed a clinic in town and treated anyone who came through the door. “I was seeing patients completely by myself as a medical student, with no supervision. Even now, as a resident, I'm still supervised by a physician. In Africa, I was all they had. I learned to rely on exams and conversations with patients, because lab work and high-tech diagnostic equipment was just not an option.”

Megan, says that her chemistry studies at Saint Mary's got her excited about and interested in science. “Chemistry majors are a small, well-supported group. My four years at Saint Mary's went a long way toward preparing me for the future challenges in my life.”