Intended for healthcare professionals

Student A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

A day in the life of a medical student from Ecuador

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 20 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1611
  1. Stijntje Dijk, PhD candidate
  1. Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  1. stijntjedijk{at}

In our series taking you into the lives of students across the globe without leaving your chair, BMJ Student spoke to a South American student who powers through 30 hour shifts every few days without any sleep

“They feel like they’re doing their patients a favour by providing care, just because it’s free,” says Pablo Estrella, a 23 year old final year medical student in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. He sees patients in private and public hospitals being treated differently, even if they are treated by the same doctors. “Our health system is weak, as the Ministry of Public Health was only established 50 years ago,” Estrella says. “Although Ecuador may be regarded as a rich country, it has gone through an economic crisis.” Ecuador implemented universal health coverage in 2008, such that anyone can receive healthcare anywhere in the country for free.1 In Estrella’s opinion, universal health coverage isn’t sustainable for Ecuador because the country does not have the resources to fund the system.

“During one of my 11 week rotations, I worked in a community close to Quito.” Estrella says. “At times, I felt ashamed that patients who came to the clinic would be sent back to the pharmacy to buy a suturing …

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