Volunteer Voice: Dr. Anna Arroyo

Each week this month, we’re bringing you fresh perspectives on ASRI’s work from some of the people who know it best: our volunteers.

Dr. Anna Arroyo is a third year medical resident on the Global Health track at Stanford. She volunteered at ASRI for six weeks, and we had the chance to sit down together at the beginning of March right before she left to talk about what she contributed to ASRI and what she is taking home.

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Trina Jones: Thank you for everything you have done in the past few weeks, Anna, and for sitting down with me to talk about it. Let’s start off with how you heard about ASRI and why you decided to come here.

Dr. Anna: I am part of the Yale/Stanford Johnson & Johnson Global Health Scholars Program, so I was already set to go abroad for one of my rotations and had to choose a location. I found ASRI really interesting in the holistic approach with community engagement and the environment. I also enjoy the outpatient set-up a little bit more, because there is a mix – you can see a range of cases. Finally, I have worked with Ewen [Dr. Ewen Wang has volunteered multiple times and is a longtime ASRI supporter] in the past at Stanford and had heard about ASRI from her.

TJ: Can you share some about your background and future professional aspirations?

AA: I have a master’s in public health and have worked with a variety of nonprofits. In the future, I would like to work with low income and immigrant communities.

Anna Arroyo (right) and Dr. Nur examine a pregnant woman. Photo: Trina Jones

Anna Arroyo (right) and Dr. Nur examine a pregnant woman. Photo: Trina Jones

TJ: What has been surprising to you about working at ASRI and what have you learned?

AA: I didn’t know how limited the diagnostics would be when I was coming in. It can be frustrating! But it stretches your clinical skills to diagnose on limited testing. I also didn’t expect the power issues [electricity can sometimes be spotty at ASRI, though we do have generators], so we have to rely on offline resources more. I am certainly taking home physical exam skills plus cost consciousness. We have to be more creative in our treatments. We have referral spots, but it can be cost prohibitive. I am very aware of costs here! Not just financial costs; there is a cultural understanding of not using your family’s resources for medical costs that is not the same in the U.S.

TJ: What have you enjoyed about being at ASRI?

AA: Most people are very committed and do multiple tasks outside their normal wheelhouse. It is inspiring how involved everyone is. ASRI is a small organization and there seems to be a community ethic to help use your skills to contribute to what needs to be done.

TJ: What are some ways you have contributed while you were here?

AA: I helped Dr. Nur create an advocacy video and helped Dr. Ron with some of the research process for an academic paper he was working on. I didn’t expect to mentor in an academic way, but it was really fun! There are so many things to work on and so many avenues to contribute skills, you have to choose!

Dr. Anna (center) consults with Dr. Jesse and Dr. Photo: Trina Jones

Dr. Anna (center) consults with Dr. Jesse (r) and Dr. Nur (l). Photo: Trina Jones

TJ: What else you have learned here you will take back to the United States?

 AA: I really enjoy morning meeting. We have the whole staff together – both the medical and conservation staff – and everyone has the opportunity to talk about things that affect everyone, everything from broad mission questions to mundane daily tasks. Everyone has a leadership role – how can we apply that to the United States in teamwork and unity?

TJ: Anything else you would like to share about working in the clinic and living on site for six weeks?

AA: It’s nice to have multiple people contributing on one case. It’s like a teaching setting in a private clinic. People hang out outside of work more here; we eat lunch together; the staff really is your community here. I learned a lot about reforestation, how they determine which species to plant, and I learned a lot about insects from Andrew [a fellow volunteer on the reforestation team, Andrew MacDonald]!

TJ: Thank you for sharing your experience Anna! It has been such a treat to have you in the clinic.


About Trina Noonan | View all posts by Trina Noonan

Trina is the Managing Director at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.