On January 13, 2018 a group of students, faculty and staff from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)–Carolinas, as well as several external preceptors and volunteers, embarked on a one-week medical outreach trip to the Dominican Republic.
On excursions throughout the La Altagracia province, on the eastern side of the country, the group assembled tents and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) tables to transform community centers, schools and churches into temporary clinics. Over the course of the week, the team served 456 patients and filled about 913 pharmaceutical prescriptions, both in these pop-up sites and in existing clinics.
VCOM-Carolinas students expanded their medical knowledge and gained intercultural sensitivity, as preceptors imparted their unique insight and experience to the student doctors.
“The mission trip to the Dominican Republic was one of the first times I truly felt like a physician,” reflected Wesley Shane, Class of 2020. “Working in an environment with limited resources forced us to be flexible and creative on our feet, but it also taught us to appreciate everything we have at our fingertips back home. Collaborating with the local physicians, I saw how strongly they advocated for their patients to ensure each got the care they needed. This reminded me of why I entered the medical field.”
As part of VCOM’s continuous care to local residents and international clinic network, medicines not used on the trip were donated to VCOM’s partner clinic in Verón. The Verón Clinic operates year-round and is funded by VCOM and the Dominican Ministry of Health.
The week spent in the Dominican Republic was a rewarding experience for all those who gave their time, and it was an opportunity to fulfill VCOM’s mission to “prepare globally minded, community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved populations.”
“It was incredible to think about the size of the impact we were making on these communities,” said Hannah Cianci, Class of 2020. “As a group, we saw over one hundred patients a day and each one of them was being cared for and given answers. Just imagine how many lives we could change, and in turn how they changed our lives. I want to go back. I want to be able to do this for people my entire life.”