This spring break I joined U of A’s Global Medical Brigade’s ["GMB"] chapter on a trip to Cocle, Panama. I had never been out of the country, so this was a leap of faith for me as my family has always been a little skeptical about international traveling. Thankfully, GMB is an incredible organization that does everything in its power to ensure their travelers have safe and memorable experiences, and they definitely accomplished their goal.
Over the course of our six-day trip, we had jam-packed days full of preparation, clinic days, and an adventure day for us travelers. The purpose of our trip was to go into a small, rural community and provide basic healthcare to its residents. With us came three doctors (two were Panamanian), a dentist and a paramedic.
The clinic was set up in their town’s elementary school where they had canceled school for three days due to our arrival. The clinic was organized as any standard American clinic would be. Patients would go from intake to triage to consult and finally to the pharmacy. There were also three supplemental stations, dental, adult charla and kids charla.
Ashley Oesterle & Friend
The purpose of the charla rooms was to try to teach the citizens about proper hygiene, in this case oral health. All of the 34 brigaders had the opportunity to work in every station. Personally, my favorite station within the clinic was consult. In consult, students were able to watch the doctor diagnose and treat patients while also being able to interact.
Shaina Hasan & Friend
Although most of us undergrads who were there didn’t have much experience or qualifications, we were still able to do some basic procedures such as listening to the heart or taking blood pressure. In the kids charla station we taught the children how to brush and floss their teeth, how to use mouthwash and then we would apply a fluoride treatment for them. This was an intimate, but fun way to interact with some of the locals. The three days spent at the clinic went by so quickly but it was an invaluable experience that I couldn't be more thankful for.
Ashley Oesterle, Shaina Hasan, Joseph Marshalek
For the many CBC students who are hoping to go in to some form of health care after graduation, I would highly suggest taking a trip like the one Global Medical Brigades offers. It provides a true representation of what it means to provide service, especially to those who have nothing to give in return except appreciation. Although my trip was brief, the inspiration I brought home with me was unparalleled and reminded me what the long nights at the library and virtually non-existent social life are for. Given the opportunity, I would embark on another Brigade or medical service trip in a heartbeat and I would hope my CBC peers would seize the opportunity too!
Rushabh Daulat, Friend & Joseph Marshalek
The Chemistry and Biochemistry students that were in Panama for the Global Medical Brigades during Spring Break 2015 included; Rushabh Daulat, Kelechi Abarikwu, Shaina Hasan, Joseph Marshalek, Carline Neuman and Ashley Oesterle.