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International Health Service Collaborative students opt to spend spring break in rural Panama

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USF Health students and physicians embark on an interdisciplinary service-learning trip to Chica, a rural mountain town in Panama

This March members of the USF Health International Health Service Collaborative (IHSC) are choosing to spend their Spring Break conducting health and education activities in Chica, a small mountain town about two hours away from Panama City. The graduate student organization’s tagline “Sustainable Health for the Underserved” is coming to life as students partner with this special Panamanian community to develop innovative and unique ways to support positive health outcomes in the area.

An IHSC member leads handwashing activities with students at Chica’s primary school during the March 2013 mission trip

An IHSC member leads handwashing activities with students at Chica’s primary school during the March 2013 mission trip

“What makes this service-learning trip especially unique is its true interdisciplinary nature,” said Shivani Gogna, a global health graduate student in the College of Public Health.

“The overall goal of the trip is to continue fostering the community partnership between USF and Chica in order to brainstorm the health needs and desires of this community. It is anticipated that this partnership will help to plan future health projects that are creative, feasible, effective, and sustainable for years to come.”

Nineteen students from the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health are traveling to Chica. They are accompanied by public health alumnus and former IHSC leader Brian Trang and three distinguished internal medicine residents Drs. Kiran Kondaveeti, Andrew Kuykendall, and Brijesh Patel.

IHSC trip participants pose on Chica’s mountain overlook during the March 2013 mission trip

IHSC trip participants pose on Chica’s mountain overlook during the March 2013 mission trip

 

The 2014 mission trip is guided by Jaime Corvin, PhD, USF College of Public Health, Department of Global Health; John Sinnott, MD, Morsani College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine; and, Lynette Menezes, PhD, USF Health International and Morsani College of Medicine.

Students and faculty are on the ground in Chica for only one week, but plan to offer a lot of services to local residents.

  • Setting up a community health clinic, including a pharmacy and access to free gynecological exams
  • Teaching health education at the clinic and local primary school
  • Working with residents to explore water sanitation in the area
  • Mapping out water lines and performing vigorous water testing with a mobile laboratory, and
  • Conducting foreign medical aid surveys

The latter effort is part of a larger project that seeks to determine some of the implications of health service trips on foreign communities visited each year by international student health organizations.

 

Primary school students watch health education plays and skits performed by IHSC members during March 2013 mission trip

Primary school students watch health education plays and skits performed by IHSC members during March 2013 mission trip

For three of the seven days, medical students from the University of Panama partner with the IHSC delegation to survey and enhance health services in Chica.

“This is an exciting relationship established recently and is key to bridging sustainable projects between the Panamanian community and IHSC,” said Kayla Mackanin, a College of Pharmacy student. “It also displays a strengthening and synergistic relationship between USF Health and international partners in Panama.”

This is the IHSC’s second visit to Chica and the students are eager to touch down. After months of preparation, fund-raisers, and research, the group is ready to land in the beautiful country known as “the Hub of Central America.”

 

USF Health students bond with the children of Chica during March 2013 mission trip

USF Health students bond with the children of Chica during March 2013 mission trip

 

Formed in 2005, the IHSC is unique in that it hosts students, faculty, and professionals from the USF Colleges of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy, and School of Physical Therapy. The collaborative works together to implement sustainable health projects for underserved populations both locally and around the world, extending the collaborative to communities in Tampa, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Panama.

To learn more about the International Health Service Collaborative or to make a donation, visit their homepage, like them on Facebook, or send an e-mail to ihscollaborative@gmail.com.

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USF Health students traveling to Panama include:

College of Public Health
Jennafer Clay
Shivani Gogna
Skylar Chelton
Joy Miedema
Anthony Nguyen

College of Pharmacy
Kayla Mackanin
Oyinlola Adeyanju
Danielle Dantuma
Shafaat Pirani
Vanessa Ulloa

Morsani College of Medicine
Stephanie Holdener
Ryan Davis
Rachel Pyngolil
Jamie Waite
Autumn Walker
Jennifer Nguyen
Jennie Ha
Gabrielle Dimattia

College of Nursing
Lara Manning

Story and photos courtesy of Shivani Gogna, USF College of Public Health

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