Mission Doctors Association

A Day in the Life – Zach Gastelum

Welcome to a day in the life of Zachary Gastelum, a mission doctor serving at Santa Clotilde Centro de Salud in Peru with Mission Doctors Association. Each day begins with early Mass, where spiritual nourishment prepares Zachary for a day filled with diverse medical challenges and blessings. From routine patient care to emergency interventions, join Zachary as he navigates the unique rhythms of healthcare in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, guided by faith and a profound dedication to serving others.

Hi everyone,

I am excited to share with you a glimpse into a typical day in my life as a mission doctor with Mission Doctors Association. When each day brings new challenges and blessings, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn, serve my fellow brothers and sisters, and grow closer to God amidst the routine day-to-day activities.

5:30 AM – Morning Routine:

I start my day early to attend morning Mass with our two congregations of religious sisters, Franciscan friars, and other lay missionaries. Nourished spiritually with the Word of God and Christ’s precious body and blood, I enjoy a quick breakfast to satisfy my physical hunger as well. I gather my medical supplies and head to the hospital to begin the work day.

7:00 AM – Work Routine:

I join all the hospital personnel in a morning huddle during which we offer our labors to God in prayer and share any important concerns, accolades, and announcements. I head into the hospital to start bedside rounds with the nurses, religious sisters, volunteers, and other doctors. After attending to the needs of our hospitalized patients, I walk over to outpatient clinic to begin seeing follow-up and sick visits. Each day brings a variety of patient concerns. A typical day includes follow-up visits for diabetes and high blood pressure, fever work-ups to check for malaria, children with skin rashes and intestinal parasites, and routine obstetric ultrasounds for pregnant women. If I am on call I find myself in the emergency room seeing patients with more acute issues: machete wounds, venomous snake bites, high fevers, and untreated severe skin infections.

1:00PM – Lunch Break:

After a busy morning, I enjoy a typical Peruvian Amazon lunch with my colleagues and any volunteers in our hospital kitchen. Lunch usually consists of fish or some meat with rice and legumes, salad, and fresh juice made from local fruits. Occasionally we also enjoy tasty Peruvian classics such as lomo saltado, ají de gallina, and ceviche. This down time is a great opportunity to debrief any difficult cases and get to know one another better. With the time that remains until the electricity goes out, I take advantage of my fan on full blast and read, study, or pray.

3:00 PM – Afternoon:

When the electricity goes out at 3pm, I work on other tasks or prepare for any weekly activities (doctors’ schedule, volunteer coordination, youth group, Catechesis, etc.). On non-rainy days I walk up to the plaza and play volleyball with some of the other hospital personnel. Together we enjoy the friendly competition, gentle exercise, and stress relief.

6:00 PM – Evening Reflection:

Electricity returns! On a typical day I prepare my dinner, recite my evening prayers, and continue working on any other unfinished tasks. If I am on call I head down to the hospital shortly after to attend to any patients and any previously-ordered lab studies pending electricity. Depending on the evening, I also participate in hospital or Church meetings/gatherings.

9:00 PM – Rest:

After a refreshing cold shower and with the heat of the day behind me, I settle down to read and sleep amidst the steady rain or diverse jungle noises. Electricity turns off at 11 pm, followed by the soothing jungle lull.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my daily life as a mission doctor. Stay tuned for more updates!

Warm regards,

Zachary Gastelum

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