May 01, 2018

Huntsville Regional Medical Campus goes on global health mission to the Dominican Republic

Written by

Roger Smalligan, M.D., MPH, regional dean of UAB School of Medicine’s Huntsville Regional Medical Campus, and a group of 26 individuals recently returned from a global health mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The group included many UAB School of Medicine third- and fourth-year medical students, family medicine residents, UAB School of Medicine faculty members, and Auburn University School of Pharmacy faculty members and students.

“This was the second medical mission trip that I’ve been a part of, and my experience was mind blowing,” said Jose Antonio Cavo, internal medicine resident. “While in the Dominican Republic, we stayed in a coastal town where poverty predominates. From there, we visited several towns to provide free medical evaluations. We went out there and showed the people we cared about them. I saw gratitude, happiness and hope in their eyes.”

The combined group of medical students, faculty and staff distributed essential medications to poverty-stricken neighborhoods and villages, diagnosed and treated hundreds of patients, and supplied reading glasses to over 100 individuals.

“This trip gave me the incredible opportunity to see the real heart and soul of our UAB medical students. The group came together, bonded quickly, and everyone worked hard despite the heat, long hours, language barrier, etc.,” said Smalligan. “Global health trips make us all thankful for what we have here in the United States. Students experience poverty in a very tangible way, and it allows them to share their knowledge, resources and caring attitudes with patients who would not get to see a physician otherwise.”

This was the fifth annual trip for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. Each year, the group typically visits different villages and neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic. However, every year, the team also visits the same orphanage called Casa Amor, which was co-founded by a former UAB Huntsville medical student and resident. This is a special part of the trip each year for the group. While there, they perform well child visits and meet the children’s acute needs, as well as leave donated supplies like soap, toothbrushes and toys.

“As a fourth-year medical student, this was my third trip to the Dominican Republic, and each trip gets better than the last," said Haley Gates, UAB School of Medicine fourth-year M.D./MPH student. "I enjoyed putting my medical knowledge and clinical skills into practice while taking care of underserved patients, and it was humbling to watch my peers do the same. Experiences like this trip allow me and other students to have a better understanding about humanity and different cultures around the world, which leads to better health care for all of the future patients we encounter. I am thankful for an institution with faculty and staff who continue to support the growth of its students as future medical professionals.”

Huntsville Regional Campus Visits Dominican Republic