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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr November 08, 2016

PA ChildStudents in the UAB School of Health Professions’ Physician Assistant Studies program spent a portion of their summer on a medical mission in Guatemala. The second-year students served more than 700 patients in the rural village Chiquimula. For many of the patients, their encounter with the UAB PA students will be their only healthcare check up this year.

“Their village is very remote and there are no clinics or hospitals nearby so their access to health care is extremely limited,” said Bellamy Hawkins, a student in the Physician Assistant Studies program. “Plus, the families struggle to find work which keeps them impoverished and leaves them unable to afford to travel or pay for healthcare.”

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“Many people walked for several hours through the mountains just to get to us and they were so grateful we were there – it was amazing to be able to help so many people,” said Caitlyn Kendrick, outreach coordinator for the UAB PA Class of 2017. “In the villages we were able to see the living conditions and we were able to talk with people about some of the struggles they were facing. It was remarkable how gracious everyone was and it was wonderful to be able to give back to this resilient community.”

PA Group PhotoStudents attending the mission included: Emily Andrew, Abby Boone, Amber Bratton, Emily Brown, Taylor Countiss, Alex Ferebee, Bellamy Hawkins, Caitlyn Kendrick, Krystal McCain, Emma McGinley, Gabrielle Navia, Kerrie Shaw, Lauren Sheffield.

The UAB PA students worked with two recent UAB PA graduates – Amy McCormick and Jamie Petrosky – as well as doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. The experience allowed the first-year students to work on their skills of diagnosing and treating. The illnesses they witnessed ranged from viral infections, parasites and lice, to chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.

The role of a physician assistant is often patient advocate and educator. The trip to Chiquimula, Guatemala, reinforced that role for the students as they saw first hand the enormous need for basic prevention and medical treatment among all communities.

The second-year students are back at UAB and in the classroom. This is the last semester before their clinical year begins in January.

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