Physician Assistant student w/childPhysician Assistant student w/childSo what did you do for Spring Break?

Beach? Check.

Exotic destination? Check.

Provide medical services to those in need? Wait, what?

Ten students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Physician Assistant program travelled to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break. But they did not relax at Playa Rincon or descend the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. 

They served a medical mission to Juan Dolio which is an hour-long bus ride outside of Santo Domingo.

“Working with the Dominican people living in these underserved villages touched each of us in a different way than we have ever been touched before,” said Elisa Cruz, a second-year PA student.

“In one village, there was a teenage boy trying to get our translator to sneak him some multivitamins,” said Katie Stone, a second-year PA student who coordinated the mission. “Multivitamins - not Lortab or Percocet or Ativan - multivitamins. Wow! Do we take things for granted or what?! This kid just wanted vitamins.”

PAs DR Mission 05UAB Physician Assistant students & friendsCruz, Stone, Erin Hartsfield, Josh Leek, Ashley Phillips and Hannah Smith are members of the PA Class of 2014. Alexis Hamilton, Lisa Walker, Lindsey Whisonant, and David Wood represent the PA Class of 2015.

They worked with the Dominican Republic ministry and SCORE International. They spent the entire week providing healthcare, construction and vacation Bible schools in the villages around Juan Dolio.

They treated more than 600 men, women and children in just over three days.

“We all came away from the clinics emotionally spent but spiritually fed; physically exhausted but bursting at the seams with joy,” said Cruz. 

Physician Assistant students treating childPhysician Assistant students treating child“Everyone we treated received a physical exam and a plan of care,” said Stone. “They also received a one-year supply of multivitamins and an anti-parasite pill, plus any medications we had prescribed them in the medical stations.”

In less than one week the PA students set up clinics in Honduras village, San Pedro village, Los Canucos village and San Pedro de Macoris village. Plus, they visited the Lilly House, a ministry for women and children rescued from prostitution, and Josiah’s House, a home for homeless children. Where they played soccer, colored with the children, sang songs from the Disney movie “Frozen” and prayed.

“While the medicine aspect of this trip was something near and dear to all of our hearts, the opportunity we had to share the gospel of Jesus was of utmost importance,” said Stone.