Drs. Candis McGraw-Senat and Drew Cates volunteered to provide primary care services
to patients in the Dominican Republic.
This spring Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) School of Pharmacy faculty members Candis McGraw-Senat, PharmD, BCACP, and Drew Cates, PharmD, AAHIVP, collaborated with healthcare professionals from
the Strickland Family Medicine Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Solid Rock International,
based in Indianapolis, Indiana, to provide primary care services to patients in the
communities of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic. During this experience,
the group stretched limited resources to provide medical services to more than 1,000
individuals in a week.
Dr. McGraw-Senat explained, “‘Barrios’ or neighborhood clinics were set up at local
churches, schools and an orphanage. In the morning and early afternoon, patients would
line up outside the pop-up clinic sites to receive small paper tickets which served
as their medical records.”
She added, “One by one, patients were guided to four stations at the clinic, which
were each operated by different healthcare providers who were aided by Dominican translators.
At station one, patients were weighed. The patients’ vitals and chief complaints were
taken by a nurse at station two. At station three, patients were seen by a physician
or nurse practitioner where medical histories were taken and patients were evaluated.
Then, providers devised care plans including medications to be dispensed by the pharmacists
at station four.”
According to Dr. McGraw-Senat, the pharmacies were comprised of a wooden box filled
with donated medications. The new ‘medical records’ indicated whether or not medications
were to be dispensed for each patient.
“Given the limited medication supply which we had in stock in the box, the medications
or equivalent alternatives were provided to patients in plastic medication bags with
labels in Spanish to indicate the medication name, expiration date and directions
for use,” she said.
At the pharmacists’ discretion and with the providers’ permission, changes in medication
were made at the time of dispensing, according to the pharmacists. For all chronic
medications, a 30 day supply was dispensed. All patients received multivitamins.
Dr. McGraw-Senat said she was challenged by the “Dominican way” of doing things. “Having
a strong type A personality made it difficult at times. I wanted to execute patient
care in a certain manner, which was not ideal for many reasons (e.g., limited resources,
cultural differences),” she said. “However, overall this was a rewarding experience
to learn about Dominican culture and an even greater learning experience to find that
the ‘American way’ is not the only or best way of doing things.”
Dr. Cates said, “Similar to Dr. McGraw-Senat, I found the most challenging part of
this experience to be overcoming my own strong type A personality, especially with
the setup/organization of the medications in the pharmacy box. Overall, it was an
excellent opportunity to see there are many ways of doing things to achieve a great
The most enjoyable part of the trip was getting to know the Dominican people, Dr.
McGraw-Senat and Dr. Cates agreed. “They were so grateful to receive care, even if
it was as simple as being provided with multivitamins,” Dr. McGraw-Senat said.
“The individuals of the Dominican were overwhelmingly appreciative of anything we
did for them while welcoming us into their communities to share their culture,” Dr.
Cates said. “They were also excited to learn more about the culture of the United
States, especially music. Dr. McGraw-Senat and I were asked to play a lot of music
from artists like Adele and Lady Gaga.”
This medical mission trip attracted Dr. McGraw-Senat for the second year in a row
and Dr. Cates for the first time. In 2015, Dr. McGraw-Senat had also participated
in a mission trip to Guatemala. As a result of their incredible experiences, both
faculty members are signed up to return to the Dominican Republic in April 2019.
Dr. McGraw-Senat is laying the groundwork for students to participate in a similar
experience. “My future plans are to create an elective rotation for our pharmacy students
so they may gain cultural awareness and understanding of health and disease outside
the United States,” she said.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
For more information, contact: Barbara Myers Senior Public Relations Manager Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: