Medicine in Society Health Project: Five Students' Journey to a Resource-Limited Clinic in the Haitian Countryside

Ochsner J. 2017 Fall;17(3):254-260.


Background: Five medical students traveled with 4 doctors and a medical photographer to Mayaya, La Victoire, Haiti, as part of a Medicine in Society rotation to provide medical care to the indigenous population.

Methods: Preparation for the trip involved special study in identifying microbes and using blood analysis equipment; work in a clinic for underserved people in the New Orleans, LA, area; background reading; Haitian dialect classes; and development of ideas for streamlining clinic operations.

Results: During the week in country, the healthcare team saw 472 patients and made more than 1,100 diagnoses. A shortage in almost all needed medications was one of the biggest challenges.

Conclusion: Each aspect of the pretrip training was useful but did not prepare the students for the conditions in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Overall, the clinic functioned smoothly, and each student had an important role to play each day. Medicine in Society-Haiti gave the medical students a completely new perspective on medicine as they experienced firsthand the ethical dilemma of resource scarcity.

Keywords: Developing countries; global health; health resources.