UT med students to aid NicaraguansWritten by David Steffen | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicaragua’s elite can seek medical care in immaculate hospitals or fly to Miami and combine a doctor’s appointment with a posh shopping excursion.
However, a group of University of Toledo medical students will travel to Nicaragua on Aug. 15 to treat those who lack even the most basic medical care. The region’s disparities affected students.
“We drove past a really nice mall, and it was like, ‘I don’t think many of our patients went shopping there,’” said Victoria Bradford, who volunteered last year. “I’m sure if you have the money, you can get anything you get here.”
Twenty-four medical students, physicians’ assistants and nursing students will travel to León, Nicaragua. Four physicians and one dentist will accompany the students. All will work with local physicians to administer basic care to locals.
Will Schmitt, a fourth-year medical student, started the Nicaragua medical missions trip three years ago. During a one-year break, he traveled to Central America and worked with various medical aid organizations.
“Of the countries I visited, I love Nicaragua the most,” Schmitt said. “To me, Nicaragua has a lot of culture. The people in Nicaragua are very welcoming.”
Locals are appreciative of the care, Bradford said, and many show up for treatment.
“They’re really grateful,” she said. “We would set up the chairs, and there was already a line of people.”
Schmitt and Bradford said students will help administer basic health care, including vitamins and anti-parasitic medications. Schmitt said malaria and dengue fever are other maladies that afflict locals. He said it’s a good learning experience, medically.
“You do come across it in the U.S., but it’s much more rare,” he said.
Wal-Mart has committed pharmaceutical supplies, and students have obtained money through fundraisers.
For the students, seeing mass medical care in Nicaragua has made them appreciative.
“We toured a hospital there, and it was kind of sobering,” Bradford said.
She said doctors were fine but they lacked resources. Even prescription notepads can be a rarity.
“There’s even a low supply of scrap paper to write prescriptions,” Schmitt said.
Visiting a Third World country has made Schmitt contemplate his own situation, he said.
“It’s helped me appreciate the resources we have at our disposal,” he said. “It makes you appreciative, for sure.”
Bradford said she also respected the doctors for their perseverance, despite their shortages.
“It made me appreciate the doctors that are down there because they have to practice with a lot less,” she said.
Many medical students cite in their applications that they want to help people, Bradford said, but the missions trip allows her to follow through with her dedication.
“They say all the nice things, but this is a way to put your money where your mouth is,” she said.
Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation may do so by sending a check to:
5533 Cresthaven Lane, Apt. 2A
Toledo, OH 45614
Write check to: UT Foundation
Nicaragua Medical Mission