By Wendy Sarubbi | June 16, 2014 3:24 pm

From Japan to the Dominican Republic, College of Medicine students are travelling worldwide this summer to provide medical services, gain clinical experience and learn different cultures. Thirty five students are taking part in different programs sponsored by health organizations and international universities.

In July, 20 students will return to the San Francisco de Macoris area of the Dominican Republic, about 60 miles north of Santo Domingo, to offer medical clinics to some the country’s poorest rural communities.

Led by Dr. Judy Simms-Cendan, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of international global health, this is the third year of the weeklong medical mission program that includes working collaboratively with College of Medicine, College of Nursing and the Dominican Republic medical students and faculty.

The students plan and help organize the trip which includes raising money to cover their travel, lodging and meals as well donation drives for supplies. Apart from over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, the students also collect personal hygiene supplies like soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo.

This year the team hope to see the same patients they saw last July so they can follow up on their health with the help of an electronic health records system they set up two years ago to keep track of patients. The students and faculty provide basic health screenings and Dr. Simms-Cendan provides female patients obstetrics and gynecology examinations.

Some of the students like senior Teresa Martin-Carreras, have been going on the Dominican Republic missions since her first year at medial school and will help mentor those on their first trip. More than 150 patients are seen on each clinic day with conditions ranging from hypertension to stomach parasites, and the variety of issues provides students a true hands-on learning experience. The program is so popular students return year after year to participate.

It’s a chance for students to immerse themselves in another culture and languages while they provide basic health checks and practice their clinical skills.

Another group of seven students are travelling to Peru with the Medical Campus Outreach Organization, and other students are travelling to Budapest, Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan and Spain on medical related programs, which can last more than a month.

Anyone interested in donating medical and hygiene supplies for the Dominican trip can drop off materials at the faculty administrative offices on the 4th floor of the medical education building.

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