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Future Physician Assistants Gained Invaluable Experience in Honduras

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

group of students in hondurasAspiring physician assistants Aisha Malik PA’17, Emily Coraci PA'17, and Emily Kobayashi PA’17 were among a team of physician assistant students who recently traveled to Honduras with Philadelphia University’s Global Medical Brigades chapter to provide free medical services to those without access to quality healthcare.

“These students served Honduran communities that truly relied on them for their medical necessities,” said Joan Ward, MS, PA-C, chair of the physician assistant studies program at USciences. “They undoubtedly left a positive impact on a culture where access to medical care and equipment is limited, while also gaining invaluable experience in their field.”

Malik, Coraci, and Kobayashi worked closely with doctors, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, and community members to provide direct medical care for patients in rural, underserved communities that would otherwise have no access to medical care. More particularly, they were able to to take vitals and patient history in triage, shadow licensed doctors in medical consultations, and assist in a pharmacy under the direction of licensed pharmacists.

group of students in hondurasCoraci said the trip served as a learning experience across all aspects of life, not just her profession. For instance, the students learned a new culture and interacted with patients of all ages who did not speak English. During a visit to a community outside of San Lorenzo, Honduras, Coraci said a local family welcomed her medical brigade into their home and even taught them how to make tortillas.

Honduras is ranked as the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti and Nicaragua, and has been designated as a “priority country” by the Pan American Health organization/WHO Strategic Plan. The basic needs of education, healthcare, and clean water are luxuries for most Hondurans, but in the rural communities where the team of students served, these luxuries are even harder to find.

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