Overseas Clinical Experiences
Pictured left: USA fourth-year medical students display the USA logo at Kibogora in Rwanda, Africa. Pictured right: Alex Kesler (Class of 2017) at work during a clinic in Honduras.
Each year, the Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama (CMMSA) provides University of South Alabama medical students, residents and physicians with medical mission trip opportunities. For students, their participation enables them to hone their medical skills through hands-on experiences while providing medical services to underserved overseas communities.
In February 2014, eleven fourth-year medical students and six physicians traveled to Rwanda, Africa to volunteer at Kibogora Hospital. Kibogora is a self-supported hospital with two operating rooms and wards for internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Stephanie Stopka, now an orthopaedic surgery resident with USA Hospitals, spoke of her experience with a very sick 7-year-old boy who arrived unable to walk due to a septic hip. She not only had to treat his illness, but had to earn both his and his mother's trust. When she spotted him later walking with the aid of a walker she realized she truly was making a difference. "Despite all of the frustrations of language barriers, cultural differences and fears of safety, the entire trip became worth it at that moment."
In June of 2014, twenty-five medical students, including first-year, second-year and recently graduated fourth-year students, went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. While there they hosted medical clinics in both urban and rural areas and provided services to approximately 1500 patients. Carter Tisdale, now a second-year medical student, summed up his experience:
"It was refreshing to be able to apply many of the concepts we learned in the classroom to a live person. The trip certainly invigorated my passion for medicine as I was able to see the profound tangible and spiritual effects a medical professional can have on his or her patient."
Dr. Jon Simmons, a USA general surgeon and long time veteran of the CMMSA medical mission trips, believes they provide students with positive experiences and interactions which are "perfect examples of the power and influence of a compassionate physician, which is exactly the type of physician that we are trying to produce at USA."
Plans are already being made for mission trips in 2015.
Pictured right: Sarah Butts (Class of 2016) during one of the many clinics held during a medical mission trip to Honduras in June 2014.