A team of 25 students from Bethel University’s Physician Assistant (PA) program, along with four Bethel employees, recently returned from a week-long medical mission trip in Belize.
Participants traveled to remote villages in the southern part of the country to set up temporary medical clinics. Students gained experience evaluating patients and dispensing medications. The program has been participating in this mission trip each year since 2008.
“This trip provides an opportunity for students to get experience treating patients in an area where resources are limited,” said Dr. Joe Hames, Vice President for the College of Health Sciences at Bethel and a participant in the mission trip. “It requires them to put their knowledge to practical use and to work together as a team.”
At many of the stops on the trip, the students treated people who lived in villages that lacked even basic conveniences like running water. This was a challenge for students attempting to provide medical care, but it also made the trip more meaningful, according to one student.
“The Belize trip was an amazing experience that I will never forget,” said Bethel PA student Aldan Race.
“Having the opportunity to serve some Belize citizens was rewarding beyond words. One of the best parts, in my opinion, was having to think on your feet. During clinical rotations, there have always been a plethora of resources available, but some of these villages didn’t even have running water, and resources were few and far between. Being able to take a step back and accomplish our goal of treating people with the bare basics was truly an unforgettable experience.”
Whether setting up multiple temporary clinics for meeting and treating more than 800 locals, experiencing a culture without indoor plumbing and other things the students considered to be basic necessities, or getting covered head to toe in mud when the vans got stuck in Machaki, the trip was memorable for these PA students.
“Having the opportunity for an international mission trip is just one of the many things that make our program unique,” said Race. “From the education to the lifelong friends I’ve made along the way, I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything.”
For more information about Bethel’s PA Program, contact PA Admissions Coordinator Katie Bloodworth at [email protected] or 731-407-7655.