Victoria Hart – Medical Volunteering Trip, Rural Panama

I used my Newcomb-Tulane College grant funding to finance a volunteering trip to Panamá with Tulane’s chapter of Global Brigades. Our brigade traveled to the Darien region in eastern Panamá and worked to provide medical care free of charge to the local communities. As part of our medical brigade, we offered services related to medicine, dentistry, and pharmaceuticals. As part of our medical services, patients were able to visit with physicians and receive diagnoses and treatment for their ailments, as well as preventive care like multivitamins and anti-parasitic medications. With our dental services, patients were able to visit with dentists and orthodontists, receive fluoride treatments, and undergo extractions if need be. As for our pharmaceuticals, we had a pharmacist and a full pharmacy on site during our clinics, filling prescriptions from our clinic’s physicians in communities where fully-stocked pharmacies are often unavailable or unrealistic options. As a pre-medical student studying Spanish, my trip to Panamá was the perfect opportunity to practice my Spanish speaking skills in an immersive environment with a focus on medical terminology. Additionally, the trip provided me with an opportunity to feel like I was actually helping others and making a difference through medicine, not just studying complex subjects in a classroom for the sake of an exam. My favorite highlight from my volunteering was my experience with two young sisters in a local community where we were working; as I took their blood pressure and filled out their patient files, we made small talk. I asked what they were studying in school, what their favorite subjects were, and finally what they wanted to be when they grew up. They pointed at my scrubs and said, “¡Una medica, como ti!” A doctor, like you. While I may not be a doctor yet, it absolutely warmed my heart that I was able to work in these girls’ community and serve as a role model for them, in large part due to my Newcomb-Tulane College grant.

Written by Victoria Hart, Dean’s Grant recipient, 2018-2019