Medical Missions In Panama
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Student Life

Medical Missions In Panama


This summer, a group of OSU students has decided to embark on a medical missions trip to Panama, the southernmost country in Central America. With the help of the national organization, Global Medical Brigades (GMB), more than 20 students will take part in a trip that promises to change their lives, and others, for the better. With this week's theme of summer plans, I thought I'd focus on a group of students' plans, instead of only my own. Fortunately, I happen to be accompanying this group to Panama and I can't wait to experience a week in a Central American country and see how American students can go about helping people in need.

Our group is heading to Panama in May. The Brigade will meet up with a smaller group of students from Cleveland State University. The purpose of this organization is to colonize chapters across the country on university campuses, with a goal of bringing medical attention and resources to rural areas in underserved countries on a yearly basis. This is the first year that OSU is sending a group, as we colonized our chapter earlier this school year. Collectively, we've been meeting once a week to prepare for our trip, which includes raising funds, collecting medications and learning Spanish vocabulary to help us once we get to Panama.

The role of students in these missions is to, more or less, act as nurses: taking vital signs, doing our best to interpret the patients' ailments before they see the doctor and conducting a full-scale triage with the help of a few advisors and translators. We'll be accompanied by one American doctor and we'll work alongside local medical personnel, in order to maximize our resources while we're there. We even get to take a day-trip to the Panama Canal on our last day, so we'll have that to look forward to upon completion of our last day of triage.

There's a lot of preparation to do before we hop on the plane and head south, both logistically and mentally. Kayla Rinner, Kappa Kappa Gamma, decided to join the brigade this summer. Why? 

"I decided to go on the Panama trip because of the uniqueness of the experience," she said. "I will get to be with 20 other students who have the same passion as I do, serving others by doing what we love and, all the while, learning so much." 

I asked her what experiences she thinks she'll have in Panama that will help in the medical field? "I think Panama will teach me how to approach patients who have a different background than I do, which is something I'll encounter often as a future physician. In Panama, I will be triaging patients who speak a different language and who who have grown up in much different circumstances than I have."

Why does Rinner think this is significant? "I believe it is very important to be able to connect with patients in order to earn their respect and trust, and a big part in that is being able to understand and relate to the patient - no matter your differences. This Panama trip will be a learning experience of using not only my knowledge of medicine, but also of understanding people and their backgrounds, in order to help heal their physical ailments."

She's got it. Most of the students who signed up have a pre-health major, be it biology, physiology, or even psychology. It's been interesting discovering how much variety the group of students brings, but it's reassuring knowing that every member does share something in common: a future in the health care field.

If you have any interest in taking a trip like this, just ask! The goal of Global Medical Brigades is to send annual help to these places, so there will be another opportunity to sign up for our trip next year.

Even if you're not pre-health, everyone should consider something like this. You might learn something about the world and, more importantly, about yourself!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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