Nireekshana is a non-profit clinic organized to foster the treatment and research of the HIV and AIDS disease. There are many chapters of Nireekshana throughout the world; however, the abundance of their clinics are located in the southern region of India. This is no coincidence – according to the New York Times, out of the entire Indian population, 65% of HIV and AIDS affected individuals reside in the southern part of India. Although Nireekshana is not a faith-biased clinic, one of the clinics located in the city of Hyderabad starts the day of with a reading from the bible and singing of Christians hymns. However, not very clinic does the same – the structure and function of the clinic is based on the clinic’s leadership.

As I caught up with an old friend, Dustin Randall, who is a premed student at Ohio State University and my fellow intern at Nireekshana in the summer of 2014, I discovered the enriching experience that Nireekshana provided us. Dustin and I mostly worked together when logging in data for an ongoing retrospective study. He explained to me that, “It was an incredible experience to see health care in a completely different culture – as far away as it gets from the United States. There are people out there in dire need. They’re in terrible poverty-stricken conditions and don’t have access to great medical care like we do. It made me feel empathy for the sick people of the world and the struggles they face, and it made me greatly appreciate the amazing medical care that we offer in the United States.” I couldn’t agree more with Dustin’s statement, since Nireekshana was truly life changing internship that encouraged us to step outside our comfort zone and help those in need.

The internship at Nireekshana is an eight week long program. It starts out with a training session and transition period into the clinic. Then, as one gets more assimilated to the environment, they’re assigned certain assignments such as counseling patients at the clinic, assisting physicians with daily check-ups, and helping the graduate students with the ongoing research. Finally you’re assigned to one of mentioned departments for the rest of internship, where one will either complete a project or continue counseling the patients. To complete the program, the interns will attend a two-week program in Mumbai where the groups of interns are trained to become trauma counselors for young adult trafficked victims. Personally, the last two-week program was the hardest part of my internship; I had great difficulty learning how to connect with walk-in patients who were still on the track for trafficking. Eventually, with extensive training, I was able to help a few of the walk-ins in re-establishing themselves as individuals in society.

As an intern and premed student, I would highly recommend other premeds to apply for this program. It truly provides one with a first hand experience of what global healthcare is. Outside of the bubble of America is a vast arena of healthcare providers that are in constant need of volunteers and physicians to keep afloat. So as privileged students and individuals, it is our responsibility to give back to those in the world community, who are not as fortunate to receive same level of healthcare as those in America.