A Trip to Remember
By: Heather Dimock, PA Student
Words cannot begin to describe the experience I had in La Dalia, Nicaragua, but I know I have made new friends and memories there that I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life.
Three second-year Quinnipiac PA students, Amanda Cote, Heather Dimock, and Jennifer Platt, set off for Nicaragua with the goal of learning how to practice developing country medicine (DCM) in a place with limited resources and access to healthcare. I think we learned that much and more! Under the careful guidance of our preceptor Jack Gardner (PA-C) we learned about the people we were serving, their culture, and how to integrate DCM with the medical care systems already in place. We learned how to practice practical, patient-centered, sustainable medicine in a place of need despite the challenges of the physical environment, limited resources, and limited access. We learned to balance efficiency and quality in attempts to deliver the highest patient care possible.
The team consisted of doctors, residents, PAs and PA students, RNs, and many other volunteers from across the country united by VIMM – Volunteers in Medical Missions. To complete the team we joined together with a Nicaraguan locals: a dentist, optometrist, and numerous interpreters. We met with local officials from the Ministry of Health and the local hospital to ensure open communication and continuous care for patients that might require additional follow up beyond what we could provide in our temporary clinics.
What I learned:
One week after returning I still feel like I am processing all the thoughts and emotions from our experience in Nicaragua. I learned much about DCM and more. I learned from each and every member of our team, and I especially learned from the patients we saw who were so warm and welcoming to us. I learned how to work with limited resources and limited ability to communicate. I gained a greater appreciation of what it means to provide primary health care to underserved populations. I hope to integrate the lessons and skills I learned in Nicaragua into my practice of medicine in the United States, in the hopes that it will benefit my future patients as I continue my education as a PA student.
Heather Dimock, PA Student, working with her interpreter Jorge to treat a young woman.
Jennifer Platt, PA Student, working with her interpreter Douglass to examine an infant with a possible ear infection.