Submitted by Bridget Pasapane on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 2:55pm
Last week we shared the first of a three-piece segment highlighting Pennsylvania State University chapter member Julia Carter on her Society-sponsored study abroad trip to Panama. Today, we’re happy to share part two of her journey. Enjoy!
Click here to read Part One.
Second Study Abroad Society Blog Post
By: Julia Carter
“Global Brigades” facilitates life-changing services for the people of Panama. Over the last few days, I’ve been working in a free medical and dental clinic set up by Global Brigades at a local school. In each classroom, we set up stations that you would normally see in a clinic or hospital setting. At the first station, a volunteer distributes forms to each patient that require basic information, such as their name, address, etc. The second station is triage, where volunteers record the patient’s height and weight, blood pressure, allergies, symptoms, and complaints. After triage, the patient visits the doctor where, if required, they’re administered anti-parasitic medication. Parasites are found everywhere in Panama, especially in the grass, and every person over the age of two is advised to take the medication to prevent infection. The doctor assesses the patient’s symptoms and prescribes medication as needed.
The patient can then see the dentist (if requested) for a tooth extraction where only local anesthesia (numbing shot) is used. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources in many regions of the country, tooth extractions are very common. After seeing the dentist, the patient waits in the “Charla” room, while volunteers prepare their medication. In Charla, volunteers talk to adults and children about safe health practices, such as drinking clean water, proper teeth brushing techniques, washing of hands, etc. This information is given to the adults via brochures, but for the kids, it’s done through song and dance. When the medications are ready, the patient heads next door to the pharmacy room to retrieve their med bag.
This experience continues to show me first-hand so much of what is going on in the world and has solidified my ambition of becoming a physician. It’s very easy to talk about the trials and tribulations of people in impoverished regions of the world without seeing it, but it’s something completely different to speak about it from personal experience. The native people in the Darien region of Panama do not have easy access to a hospital unless the family has a vehicle and can make the 45 minute drive. Clean water is scarce and cannot be wasted. Food can be limited on any given day, and families barely own the land they paid for due to government corruption.
This experience has taught me that I could be of great use in any region of the world. Of course, living in the United States, it would be expected of me to obtain my degree, become a physician and be a success at home. However, I have always had an interest in what happens abroad, outside of our little bubble that we call the United States of America. Because of this interest, I have added a Global Health Certificate to my studies at the University of Pittsburgh this fall, where I will be completing my Master of Public Health. One day, I hope to open my own clinic in a disadvantaged region of the world and hopefully play a part in the leveling of access to healthcare across the globe.
Deciding to return to Panama with the non-profit organization Global Brigades has been one of the greatest decisions of my life. This was made possible with the help of The National Society of Leadership and Success and its Global Leader Scholarship, which I was fortunate enough to receive.
Monday, October 26, 2015