Students’ international medical mission evolves Annual trip has become a multi-faceted, interprofessional educational experience
What began with a small group of medical students interested in experiencing international medicine has evolved into an interprofessional medical mission that provides more than 1,500 patients with the only medical care they may receive in a year. At the same time, it changes the lives of the students and preceptors who participate. Launched in 2006 by the School of Medicine (SOM) International Medicine Interest Group, the spring break trip to the Dominican Republic has grown into an interprofessional educational experience that begins many months before the students and preceptors actually board a plane bound for La Romana, the Dominican Republic capital. In its first year, just eight medical students participated in the six-day trip, which was planned in just eight weeks. This year, as a result of growing student interest across all three schools, planning began last fall and the mission took place over two weeks, with seven nursing students, 33 medical students and three MD/PhD students (plus one undergraduate student) and 15 preceptors, including SOM and Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) faculty, taking part. Because of the larger number of care teams, more clinics were held than in years past. The GSN and second-year medical students all participated during the first week of the trip, when their spring break took place. The students were divided into care teams that headed out each morning to the bateys—small villages on sugar cane plantations where workers live—to set up mobile clinics. As happens every year, the clinics took place in whatever space was available—sometimes in schools or churches or even someone’s yard. Most of the workers seen would not otherwise have access to care. When the student/preceptor care teams arrived each day to set up, patients were already lined up to see them. Each clinic consisted of stations that perform different aspects of the patient visit—intake, vitals, patient interview and diagnosis. The stations were largely staffed by students, as well as local volunteers who served as linguistic and cultural interpreters. Preceptors, most of whom were doctors and nurse practitioners from UMMS and UMass Memorial Medical Center, circulated throughout the clinic, visiting all the stations. All cases were reviewed and signed off on by a preceptor. Among the preceptors on the second week of this year’s trip was Russell Wolf, MD, whose daughter, first-year med student Molly Wolf, was also on the trip. “I got to sign off on one of her charts, a rare treat for a dad!” said Dr. Wolf.
Week 2: March 26 to April 2 Students Anne Barnard, MS1 Alison Casserly, MS1 Brian Ferrara, MS3* Shannon Fitzgerald, MS1 Caitlin Fogarty, MD/PhD* Alex Hart, MS1 Raymond Lee, MS1 Christopher MacKay, MD/PhD* Katherine Marino, MS1 Vince Miccio Jr., MS3 Alliam Ortiz, MS1 Nihal Patek, MS4 Kyle Rossi, MS1 Parisa Samimi, MS1 Aubrey Samost, MS1 Sarah Shannahan, MS1 Naomi Shin, MS1 Jonathan Smits, MS1 Julie Tabroff, MS1 Odette Taha, MS1 Elizabeth Townsley, MD/PhD Sarah Tracy, MS1 Chau Tran, MS1 Alexis Tumolo, MS4 Vivek Venugopal, MS1 Kelley Wittbold, MS1 Molly Wolf, MS1 Miriam Udler, MS4 Preceptors
Erin Barlow, MD Michael Chin, MD Dawn Fraga, PAP Specialist Maria Garcia, MD Julian Kadish, MD Pamela Kutzer, FNP Phyllis Pollack, MD Michelle Pugnaire, MD Melinda Raboin, MD Gina Smith, RN Dawn Tasillo, MD Russel Wolf, MD *student planning team