JAMAICA – A team of 15 Campbell University medical school faculty and students dedicated a week of their winter vacation to providing medical care in Jamaica.
Dr. John M. Kauffman, Jr., dean of Campbell’s medical school, led the trip along with Dr. Joe Cacioppo, associate professor of emergency medicine, and Dr. Nicholas Pennings, director of the university health center. This was the school’s second trip to Jamaica and is planned to be an annual trip.
Dr. Kauffman first served in medical missions in Jamaica in 1993 and helped establish the Robins Bay Clinic on the north shore of Jamaica, so returning to the clinic with students in answer to the school’s mission to serve the underserved is very meaningful.
“It is CUSOM’s goal to not only produce physicians to serve the medically underserved populations in North Carolina and the U.S., but also across the globe,” said Kauffman. “CUSOM is dedicated to medical missions because we know the positive impact is twofold – they provide healthcare to patients who otherwise would not receive quality care and the experience has an immeasurable impact on medical students.”
“The strong medical education at Campbell really has prepared us for our futures as physicians,” said Kalie Gargano, a first year medical student who served on the trip. “The Jamaica trip helped solidify this – having the opportunity to interview patients, perform physical exams, and discuss medical plans with them really helped me tie everything together, and we learned so much by working hands-on with the Jamaican patients.”
Among the many patients treated by the Campbell team, an infant’s life was likely saved. Born premature at 28 weeks just a few weeks prior, the infant’s mother brought her to the clinic because she had a cold and was having difficulty breathing. The Campbell physicians quickly assessed the infant needed emergency medical care at the hospital located over an hour drive away.
“If we had not been there to see the infant and to provide transportation for her to the hospital, she may not have survived,” said Dr. Pennings. “We are thankful to have been able to be there to provide care and for our students to experience the truly underserved communities just 2,000 miles away.”
The Campbell medical students affirm the value of the medical experience gained from missions as well as the spiritual and cultural impact.
“Medical missions are an opportunity to experience physician-patient interactions outside of your cultural comfort zone and to experience medicine without readily accessible lab tests or scans,” said Megan Kauffman, MS-I. “With a few patients, I could sense their hurting hearts and broken spirits because of the difficult circumstances of life. My natural response was to pray over their hearts and to share with them the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than hope in the circumstances of the world.”
The trip to Jamaica is one of several domestic and international medical mission trips Campbell’s medical students participate in annually. Teams travel to serve in Honduras and Haiti as well as providing care to underserved communities in North Carolina through a weekly free clinic and hosting clinics for migrant farmworkers.
Additionally, CUSOM encourages medical students to work with third party organizations to participate in medical missions between their first and second year of medical school, and Campbell is working to establish clinical rotation sites in several locations across the globe.
Campbell looks forward to hosting a regional medical mission conference, Cure, September 10, 2016 at the campus in Buies Creek, NC.