This year, Arcadia University’s Physician Assistant (PA) students had the opportunity to travel through Global Medical Brigades to Nicaragua to provide medical care for a week.
The brigade brought an interdisciplinary team of 65 brigadiers, including interpreters, physician assistant students, physician assistant faculty and alumni, family medicine, surgery and emergency physicians, a gynecologist/obstetrician, a nurse anesthetist, critical care nurse, nurse practitioner, and a dentist.
The 2016 brigade team raised over $125,000 for medical supplies and equipment, three meals per day, student travel, and housing. This fundraising was supported by an alumni phone-a-thon, selling locally grown Nicaraguan coffee, individual students’ efforts, and the support of the Dean of the College of Health Sciences.
These donations and supplies were used to treat over 1,700 men, women and children from various communities in Nicaragua, far beyond their goal of 1,000 patients. The patients had a variety of medical conditions including asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and diseases indigenous to Nicaragua. Volunteers were also able to educate the children about dental hygiene and proper hand washing techniques through interactive play.
The volunteers were able to work with local families and communities during a Public Health day, where PA students helped lay cement floors for six different families for structural support and disease prevention. Volunteers also worked with the elderly population of the community to provide specialized health information.
The PA students assisted the team of clinicians to provide hands-on medical care and patient education, applying many of the skills learned during the didactic phase of their curriculum. This brigade was not only successful at providing care to a vast number of medically underserved individuals, but also allowed for an invaluable experience shared by all students involved.