GA-PCOM students recently participated in medical mission trips to Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia.
While the summer months are a time for many students to “get away,” not all who journey from campus are on vacation. This year, numerous second-year students studying to be doctors at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) traveled to countries in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia to participate in medical mission trips during the months of June and July.
Led by osteopathic medical student Ishwarya Soundappan, a group of nine students with GA-PCOM’s International Medicine Club brought medicine and medical equipment to Makadum—a remote village in Nepal—where they set up a clinic at the local school.
“We stayed at the village for five days and during those days we saw over 300 patients,” said Soundappan, who added that some patients in nearby villages walked for more than 4-5 hours to visit the clinic.
Alongside Dr. Pradeep RajBhandari, who organized the trip, the students helped with physical exams and advised patients on hygiene and basic healthcare. They later went to another school in the area to share healthy habits and to teach about personal and sexual health.
A continent over, Michael Baek spent three weeks in Nigeria, in a town called Kaduna. The trip was organized by Dr. Stuart Quartemont, MD, and his wife Velvet Quartemont through Medical Missions International, a non-profit they founded in 1991. Baek got involved with the trip through a friend who studies medicine at Mercer University. He explained, “I've always wanted to visit Africa and help those who are in need.”
During his time in Nigeria, Baek assisted in numerous procedures, including an indirect inguinal hernia repair, appendectomy, uterine fibroidectomy, umbilical hernia repair, hysterectomy, ectopic pregnancy surgery, breast lumpectomy, uterine myomectomy, internal hemorrhoid repair, below-knee amputations (due to elephantitis) and burn contracture hand surgery.
In the Dominican Republic, students Sonia Im, Donna Yoon and Sitembile Lee joined the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) to help provide primary care medicine to communities near El Seybo. Another group of three osteopathic medical students traveled to Peru as part of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), which offers access to healthcare and educates community members on preventative measures.
Five more of their classmates traveled to Nicaragua with a group of 40 other medical students, physician assistants, nurses, and DOs. The student doctors helped set up clinics outside the city of Leon where, for four days, they served as many patients as possible.
“We would set up clinics in local churches, outside, in front of local stores, or anywhere that was the center of the community … we saw over 740 people by the end of the week,” recalled Francesca DiSantis, one of the DO students on the Nicaragua trip, “At the end of each day we would make home visits to those in the community who were unable get to the clinic. We were lucky enough to have an abundance of supplies and medications with which to treat patients.”
Gary Prusky, who also went to Nicaragua, added, “This trip reassured me of all the right reasons why I am becoming a doctor—to give back to society in a meaningful way. I highly recommend every [medical] student participate in a medical trip if possible at the end of their first year.”
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 which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences 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 or call 678-225-7500.
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