Student Pharmacists Enjoy a Unique Spring Break

This week has started out with another snowy Monday, and students are beginning to look forward to warmer weather and spring break trips.  But a group of UCSOP student pharmacists have chosen a different path for their spring break.  During spring break 2013, 4 students joined a mission trip to Haiti through a local church and our CPFI chapter, and this year UCSOP students have the opportunity to participate in the mission trip again.  Class of 2016 student Jenny Byerly writes about her experience last year in Haiti during spring break.

Jenny: Last spring break I had the opportunity to attend a medical missions trip with Help Haiti Know Jesus Ministries through Gateway Christian Church.  This was an amazing opportunity offered to the University of Charleston.  Through this medical mission trip, myself and 3 other UCSOP students were able to extend our knowledge outside of the classroom.

UCSOP students Jenny, Temeka, Alex, and Aaron

UCSOP students Jenny, Temeka, Alex, and Aaron

The trip to Haiti took 3 plane rides and a 12-hour ride on the back of a truck.  Let me tell you, the trip was no easy task.  The roads in Haiti are nothing like the roads here in the U.S.

Road in Haiti

Road in Haiti

UCSOP Students Ride in the Back of a Truck from Airport to Haitian Town

UCSOP students ride in the back of a truck from airport to Haitian town

This being said, none of us imagined what we would actually see and experience during this trip but the outcome of it was unbelievable.  Throughout the week we were able to set up 5 different clinics and reach over 900 Haitians, providing care to what we may consider easy fixes, such as the common cold and flu.  During the week my classmates and I were able to master taking blood pressures, heart rates, and temperatures.

Alex Tate taking a patient's blood pressure

Alex Tate taking a patient’s blood pressure

UCSOP student pharmacists work at the pharmacy table during their mission trip

UCSOP student pharmacists work at the pharmacy table during their mission trip

Also, each one of us got to experience the process of diagnosing patients based on their chief complaints.  Some of the disorders/diseases we diagnosed were worms, yeast infections, high blood pressure, scabies, ring worm, elephantiasis, and breast cancer.  We treated each case as best we could and explained to each patient, with the help of our translators of course, how to use their medications properly.

Through this trip I was able to experience the beauty of both Haiti and its people and provide a wonderful service while applying the material I learn in class every day at UCSOP.   This trip will most definitely be offered to UCSOP students again and I highly recommend it.  It is truly a life changing experience and will benefit your life both emotionally and spiritually through the devotions of Pastor Paul.  It will provide ways to begin thinking out of the box helping to enhance your pharmacy skills.

Jenny with one of the kids from the Haitian church the group attended

Jenny with one of the kids from the Haitian church the group attended

The entire group on the mission trip

The entire group on the mission trip

The group at the beach in Haiti


The group at the beach in Haiti

This year Class of 2017 student Vanessa Chavarria is going on the mission trip for the first time.  When asked why she is choosing to participate in this type of spring break trip, she said, “The reason why I chose to participate in this mission trip is because I have always wanted to help less fortunate people and also spread the love of Christ while doing so. What I am looking forward to the most is being able to actually help these people feel better, just knowing that I might have saved a person’s life is more rewarding than any recognition. And the only thing that I am worried about is the adjustment when I come back. I am a very affectionate person and coming back to everything we have here will be a reality check, but as a future pharmacist this is something that I will have to be able to learn how to cope with.”

Vanessa Chavarria, Class of 2017

Vanessa Chavarria, Class of 2017

Good luck to those leaving for Haiti in March (only 4 weeks to go)!  Wishing you safe travels, warm weather, and the ability to help many people!

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