Guadalupe Garcia, an NUHS naturopathic medicine (ND) student, is among several students interested in an upcoming medical brigade trip to Nicaragua and is seeking more students to participate. The trip will take place from August 19-27.
“This trip is a wonderful opportunity for students to work with and help an entirely new and different patient population,” said Garcia, who is also vice president of the NUHS Latin Medical Club.
Natural Doctors International (NDI), which hosts the trip every year, has a free clinic on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Because of its remote location, the island’s population has limited access to healthcare.
Participants cover their own travel costs, insurance, and pay a fee for meals and lodging. The trip falls on the weeklong break for National University students, making it possible for them to attend without interrupting their studies.
In addition to getting valuable medical experience, participants also have the satisfaction of helping those in need. Patients at the clinic are typically suffering from malnutrition, manual labor injuries and chronic pain. In addition to spreading the word about this opportunity, Garcia is also looking forward to learning how to treat patients in a challenging environment with limited medical resources. As an ND student, she plans to make diet recommendations that can have a positive impact on a patient’s health, among other care options.
The Nicaragua trip will be Garcia’s second medical mission trip. During a previous trip to Peru, she helped build a clinic and worked in an urban health facility. “These kinds of trips enable health care students to acquire hands-on and real world experiences they might not otherwise get on campus,” she said.
Those unable to participate in the trip can still gain valuable cultural insights by joining the NUHS Latin Medical club. “Latinos are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States,” said Garcia. “Since starting the ND program at National University I’ve also seen a growing number of Latino students enroll.”
From its start a year ago, the club’s goal has been to spread cultural awareness about the growing Latino community. Open to all students, the club features speakers, lessons in Latin dancing along with opportunities to work in the community. To join or learn more about the group, visit the Latin Medical Club’s Facebook page.
To read about the experiences of other students who participated in past medical bridage trips in Nicaragua, visit Maile Horita’s blog and Juli Yelnick’s blog.
Please note NUHS is not a sponsor of the program described in this article. Individuals should do their due diligence in deciding to participate.