Housekeeper to Hospital Doctor: Jamaican Medical Student Gains Valuable Skills

By: Trishell Brown, Summer Work and Travel Participant & 2018 Ambassador Scholar 

I have learned many diverse aspects and new skills from my summer with the Work and Travel program that will help me greatly when I return to my studies. My primary job is in housekeeping. The housekeeping department is the biggest department in our hotel, and it essentially deals with the cleanliness. We take care of all the rooms. We have to ensure the guests feel comfortable in an environment which is clean and well ordered. Although these tasks do not relate directly to my studies in school, I am gaining insight into how important it is to make people feel that they are in a safe, clean, and welcoming environment.  

These hospitality skills will definitely be put to good use, as I am currently studying medicine at the University of the West Indies. This course covers a wide syllabus and studying full-time should take 5 years to complete. I was excited to begin this career path, but my enthusiasm was quickly tempered by a painfully steep learning curve and realization that in-depth research, academic writing, and the extensive use of electronic media required different skills that did not come intuitively. Being a housekeeper this summer has shown me that I can complete my studies because it has taught me not to give up easily! I know that I will use what I learned to do a better job caring for my patients and putting them at ease.  

One of my chosen courses for the next semester is “Law, Economy, and Government in the Caribbean,” which focuses on the rich diversity and the varying approaches that different cultures and nationalities bring to business and negotiation. This is another topic that has become very familiar to me from being in the housekeeping industry! The majority of my co-workers are not Americans and some only understand basic English. I am grateful for this opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of people, which will surely prepare me for my course.  

On the days when I am not cleaning rooms, I have gotten a second job serving and preparing food at a theme park. I have learned so much more than I could ever imagine at this job.  It is particularly fast-paced. Learning to adapt to such an environment will pay off when I continue my studies in clinical courses.  

I have about 6 weeks of work remaining, and I intend to hone these new skills and build on each of them. I can guarantee that by the time I return to Jamaica, I will have gained valuable skills from my experience here and will be able to apply these skills effectively as I continue my studies.