Instead of taking a hard-earned vacation this summer, student volunteers are busy collecting supplies and brushing up on their Spanish-speaking skills for MedPACt’s first medical mission trip to the Yantalo in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, July 29 – August 5.
The volunteer medical trip gives students an opportunity to care for a rural underserved population and get hands-on-training and education in a setting that is far removed from the high-tech facilities and available medicines they are used to having in the USA.
“We will be working at a field hospital established for global health medical trips with an emphasis on service as well as medical education,” said Dr. Judy Simms-Cendan, MedPACt adviser and associate professor.
Altogether, a team of 30 including faculty and students from UCF’s College of Medicine and Physical Therapy program, as well as volunteers from the UF College of Pharmacy, an anesthetist, prosthetist and pastor will be traveling to the remote area, more than 600 miles from Lima, Peru’s capital.
The volunteers will be working in a mountain clinic that has clinical space and operating rooms to see to a variety of ailments from minor headaches to conditions that require surgery. Dr. Juan Cendan, chair of medical education and professor of surgery at UCF College of Medicine and Dr. David Weinstein, assistant professor and physician at UCF Health are among the accompanying doctors.
The trip will provide students hands-on-training and education in the clinic and surgery settings. But Dr. Simms-Cendan stresses that the trip is more about education as students will recognize and appreciate the services they can offer to people they serve.
“We are lucky to live in the United States where healthcare is much more accessible than elsewhere in the world,” said medical student Arjun Patel. “Studying medicine is a privilege and very few people in the world have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that we have. It’s part of the job description to share that knowledge and those skills with as many people as we possibly can, regardless of their geographic location or ability to pay.”
This will be the first time MedPACt will be going to Peru. The trip is self-funded and each student has to raise more than $1,200 to participate. Most of the medical supplies will be donated, but some must be purchased. They are currently accepting donations of over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, vitamins and personal hygiene products like toothpaste and soap.
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