In August 2018, the day after they successfully completed their didactic year, nine of our Physician Assistant students and one faculty member traveled to Darién, Panama with an international, non-profit organization to provide healthcare to the indigenous population of the area. Joining them in Panama were two local physicians, a local dentist and a pharmacist. Over the course of six days, the team, along with PA students from Hofstra University, volunteered at intake, triage, consultation and pharmacy stations and assisted in evaluating 425 patients. Students also provided public health education “Charlas” (Spanish for “chats”) for children less than 12 years of age while families waited for their medications to be filled.
“It was amazing for me to watch our students apply the medical knowledge they received at Salus,” said Jeanne-Marie Pennington, MSPAS, PA-C, clinical coordinator, Physician Assistant Program. “It has been a long time since my last volunteer opportunity and it has been awesome being able to share this experience with our students.”
Lessons Learned shared by students:
Caroline Slattery '19PA
It was a really humbling experience to serve such an underprivileged population and a population that I had never been exposed to before. Arriving the first day at the village, I was nervous about what I was going to be exposed to and if I was actually going to be able to help them. But I quickly realized that the little I thought I could provide meant a whole lot more to them. As I continue my future in medicine, surrounded by all the advancing technology and new medical innovations, I hope to not lose the insight I gained from this experience. I want to stay aware of the inequalities of medical treatment across the world and how the most basic everyday medicine to one person, can be life changing to another. But I also want to remember that healing is composed of so much more than just medicine itself. Simply listening to these patients, educating them and building their trust with a different culture, seemed almost more valuable to them than the prescription we gave them. Despite the language barrier, the hugs and smiles exchanged spoke a strong message of the power of the work we did.