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Student-Led USciences Medical Brigade Travels to Honduras for Mission Trip
Nearly 40 USciences students traveled to Honduras this spring as part of the first ever USciences Medical Brigade to see and treat patients in clinics and help with public health and infrastructure projects.
The USciences chapter of the Global Medical Brigades was founded by Vinita Yadav BMS’18, who hopes to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant with a focus on global health. Yadav wanted to bring together her classmates to serve those in need while they were still in the integral years of their education. Global Brigades is an international organization whose mission is to resolve global health and economic disparities by empowering both volunteers and communities to come together through a holistic model.
“There is an entirely different world outside of where we are,” said Yadav. “The only way we can experience this is if we travel outside of our small place of which we call home. I learned to be compassionate and caring to others, while also maintaining a level of respect and humility.
The 39 students on the mission saw a total of 532 patients in three days of clinic work in San Francisco, Zamorano. The team also helped to dig trenches to aid in a future water system in the community Los Terrones, El Paraíso and construct eight “eco stoves” for families in Chandala, Cantarranas.
Yadav said members of the communities they served were so welcoming and kind, with patients waiting in line for hours to see a doctor without complaint. She said the experience has strengthened her desire to pursue global health in her future career in healthcare.
“I will always see my patients as human and equal and always help serve those in need,” said Yadav. “I could recommend this experience to anyone of any major… You don’t necessarily have to be a healthcare professional in order to care for other people. There are many ways that we can help others.”
Yadav said she hopes that the organization continues to inspire USciences students to travel abroad to help those in need.
Students who attended the trip, reflect on their experience and recount the lessons learned:
Whitney Ly PharmD'20 talked about her experience on the Pharmacy Future Leaders podcast.
Neil K. Shah
Major: Doctor of Pharmacy, Class of 2020
Coming into college, I always wanted an opportunity to go abroad. I also wanted to have the opportunity to give back to the world since I knew I came from a very privileged background.
I think [through this experience] I really learned the level of satisfaction one can get from treating a patient. In class, learning clinical knowledge can be interesting, but rarely do you have the opportunity to physically put your knowledge into action to help a real person. This experience shows you how much power your clinical knowledge gives you to help others, and how much fun it can be to solve a patient’s case like a puzzle. At the end of the trip, I left with a great respect and love for the clinical practice of medicine.
We also dealt with patients that had severe cases of their chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It was crazy to see how these chronic conditions actually manifest in a real-life patient; it’s like the information in your classes come to life, and you realize how much help people need to improve their own health.
I definitely have internalized a great respect and fascination for clinical medicine practice. I was not entirely sure I wanted to follow clinical pharmacy as a career option, however after seeing the power that the knowledge in school gives me to help people and the satisfaction that I can gain from being able to help others, I am really strongly considering clinical pharmacy as a viable career option.
Major: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Class of 2021
I wanted to participate in the Global Medical Brigade trip to Honduras because I wanted to help people who are not as fortunate as I am. I love helping people and seeing the genuine smiles on their faces when they are being helped.
I learned how fortunate we are in the United States to live in a country that covers our basic healthcare needs. Healthcare is a basic human right and I learned how much of a discrepancy there is between our access to healthcare in the United States and the access of the people of the communities we visited in Honduras. We are all human and we all deserve basic healthcare. Healthcare is a necessity, not a privilege and this sounds like common knowledge, but witnessing this firsthand was nothing I would have ever learned in the classroom.
The most memorable part of the trip to Honduras was interacting with the people of the communities. Even with a language barrier, a smile of gratitude is universal and I have never seen so many genuine smiles and loving people. The people of the villages we visited were the most kind-hearted people I have ever met and they were so welcoming and always made us feel like we were a part of their community. I am so grateful for this experience and being able to serve the people of the villages we visited in Honduras.
At first, I felt that we were not doing enough to help the people and it felt like we were not doing anything really effective; however, the 532 people of San Francisco, Zamorano would not have been able to see the doctors if we had not attended the brigade. We made a difference in the lives of all of the members of the community who do not have the same privileges we have living in the United States. This was one of the best experiences of my life and it reinforced my passion for serving in the healthcare field and helping people with physical therapy.
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