By Wendy Sarubbi | July 25, 2018 2:00 pm


A UCF interprofessional healthcare team of 51 students, faculty and volunteers provided primary care and surgeries for more than 500 patients in a remote village of Peru this summer – a 41 percent increase in the patients seen last year.

The students came from UCF’s College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Social Work and Physical Therapy. They were joined by two faculty members from the College of Nursing, three faculty from the College of Medicine, volunteers from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, certified registered nurse anesthetists from the University of Michigan, a licensed clinical social worker, a chaplain and two translators. Together they provided care at a rural clinic with open air ventilation and natural lighting in Yantaló, in the Amazon rainforest. Yantaló is more than 600 miles away from the nearest city – Lima, the capital, and patients walk hours or come by motorcycle taxi for care.

The Fundación Yantaló Clinic is staffed by volunteer primary care physicians year-round. UCF College of Medicine faculty physicians and medical students provided specialized care in areas like dermatology, pediatric urology and surgery. The interprofessional team also included faculty and students from UCF’s College of Nursing, led by faculty members Heather Peralta and Desiree Díaz, and the Physical Therapy program, led by adjunct faculty member Chris Doerger.

“Interprofessional education is the key to the future of health care,” said Peralta. “Our students will be working hand-in-hand, side-by-side as providers within hospital settings. Providing enriching, positive experiences during their schooling fosters these relationships.”

Physical therapy students and Doerger saw adults with musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain, as well as children and adolescents with developmental delays, scoliosis and post-traumatic injuries. “The local residents often work jobs that involve a high degree of physical labor, including farming and construction,” said Doerger. “As you might expect, they do not have access to consistent medical care or rehabilitation.”

Medical students Yunfai Ng, Chavi Rehani, Bradford James and Daralys Lopez took charge of coordinating clinic volunteers, organizing the flow of patients and helping to set up the operating room schedule. They also took inventory of supplies in the operating room and pharmacy. As physicians operated on hernias and performed gynecological surgeries, nursing students and faculty provided triage and perioperative care.

Ng, a second-year med student, said she was glad for the opportunity to put what she’d learned in the classroom to good use. “All of the physicians were really open about teaching,” Ng said, noting that Dr. Pinkal Patel, a family medicine physician and College of Medicine faculty member, “let every student come up with differential diagnoses, and he was like, ‘OK, what’s the treatment and plan?’ And then he talked us through it, which was pretty awesome.”

Among the five nursing undergraduates in Peru was Rachel Evans. “Every member of the interdisciplinary team was essential,” she said.  “For example, without social workers we wouldn’t have been able to communicate about complex issues such as abuse and infidelity.”

“The different disciplines worked together seamlessly, which was an amazing experience to be a part of,” Evans added.

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