Future Focus: Lachlan Piper

Before commencing his final year of medical studies at the University of Sydney, Lachlan Piper sought out an elective opportunity in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Arming himself with proficiency in the local language, Lachlan seamlessly integrated into the vibrant culture, enabling profound conversations with his patients and a deeper understanding of their needs.

Speaking the language

The grant from BOQ Specialist enabled me to attend Swahili lessons before my two-month placement in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. These lessons gave me a passable knowledge which turned out to be invaluable, and enhanced my experience in ways I could not have imagined. The placement itself was nothing short of enlightening. To jump into a completely different medical system influenced by a culture I was only beginning to grasp was both fascinating and intense. I was amazed at how quickly speaking the local language gained me the trust and affection of doctors and patients alike. Picking up more language skills along the way allowed me to ask more complex questions and better understand why the Tanzanian medical system takes the form that we find it today. Local attitudes to pain, the patient rights, and administrative processes were initially quite jarring to Western eyes, but a judgement of these values must only be made within a cultural context. Having a good grasp of Swahili undoubtedly accelerated my understanding of the local culture. There is truly no better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to jump in and speak to locals in their own language. I never tired of the look of surprise on people’s faces!

Helping to bring life into the world

As a future clinician, the placements I attended in Dar Es Salaam have given me a newfound confidence in both my medical abilities and capacity to keep a cool head. The Emergency Department at Muhimbili Hospital was filled with brilliant doctors willing to give me opportunities to improve my practical skills. I was exceptionally lucky to spend an entire month there and witness the huge variety of cases coming through the doors. Half of my placement was spent in the Obstetrics Department at Amana Hospital where I worked alongside the most generous and hardworking midwives. The doctors working there had no hesitation in training me to deliver babies. I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to assist in those births. This photo, taken with consent, is of twins I delivered in March.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at Muhimbili and Amana hospitals for sharing both their time and expertise with me.

Tutaonana tena rafiki zangu! Lazima nirudi Tanzania - We will meet again my friends! I need to go back to Tanzania.

Developed exclusively for medical and dental students, each year the BOQ Specialist FutureFocus grants provide students with the opportunity to undertake an elective so that their commitment to helping others can be realised. Applications for our FutureFocus grant are currently open, apply here.

You can also access funds to help undertake an overseas placement, with our Student Banking Package.


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