Studying Medicine on An Island
“My parents have always encouraged us to travel, understand the world and appreciate different cultures, and I believe this is what started my journey.”
As a medical student studying in the Caribbean, Rachel Beaulieu qualifies her story as one that is non-traditional. After quitting her job in the pharmaceutical field, Rachel decided to go live in Dubai for 3 years to work as a flight attendant for Emirates Airlines, while simultaneously completing a master’s degree in public health. Let’s just say that Rachel does not do things half-heartedly!
It was while accomplishing her goal to collect 30 new stamps on her passport that Rachel discovered her love for the various cultures and the different people she encountered traveling the world. Studying medicine had always been the plan, thus when abroad she asked herself: “Why not do it now and, at the same time, cross something off my bucket list – to live on an Island?”
The Saint-James School of Medicine in Anguilla follows the American curriculum, allowing Rachel to complete a two years accelerated program in Anguilla, to then do another two years of clinical rotations in the United States, leading to the obtention of her “Dr.” title. It is during her clinical rotations that the medical student will explore the specialties she would like to focus on, which are a mix of neurology and oncology.
Since the beginning of her trip, what story has been the most impactful?
“I think that living in the United Arab Emirates was a fascinating experience, as I was working directly with people from over 150 nationalities. My coworkers came from everywhere across the globe, carrying with them a baggage of cultures, customs, identities, and experiences. It was truly life changing for me because everyone’s lifestyle and work ethic is so diverse that I would learn something new every day. I believe that there’s nothing that compares to working for Emirates. It is the biggest airline company in the world, and the experiences I had are unforgettable. It is so special that for most, going back to the real life is very difficult. We would be in Africa on Tuesday, then in New York on Wednesday, just in time to shop in London on Saturday, and to eat Thai in Bangkok the next Monday! Nothing compares to this lifestyle, there’s always something new and exciting going on.
«I would say that this experience taught me to always be open-minded, and I learnt a lot about the customs and traditions of various countries, which will help me understand and appreciate my future patients, without any judgement.”
There’s a quote I once saw in a museum in Alaska that I absolutely loved. It said: “What we don’t live, don’t see, or don’t do, we will never understand.”
After visiting over 70 countries, Rachel’s curious inner child is still looking to expand the list and learn more about new countries.
Only one question remains to be answered: where will we be seeing Garde-Malade next? In Antarctica, Greenland, Mozambique, Botswana, or rather Mongolia? Wherever it may be, it will make for beautiful memories.