Service students travel overseas

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After finals are over in December, most students are thinking about what gifts they will recieve for the holidays. Yet, a group of students and faculty from Pacific’s Health Professions Campus will be giving a gift to a Nicaragua community while they participate in an interdisciplinary service-learning project over winter break.

The team assembled for the 10-day service learning trip travels to Managua, Nicaragua. The trip consists of students and faculty from Pacific’s Schools of Physician Assistant Studies, Pharmacy, Dental Health Science, and Occupational and Physical Therapy.

Pacific’s College of Health Professions partnered with the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation, and in 2007, the service learning opportunity to Nicaragua became available to students and faculty. The JFR foundation is focused on providing care for the elderly, and the team will be serving community members at “hogares,” which are similar to retirement facilities or assistant living centers.

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Saje Davis-Risen received a $9,350 grant from the Physician Assistant Foundation to support the project. The funds also support PA’s continued involvement in the project. The PA program became involved with this service-learning project in 2009.

Students from each program will work in an interdisciplinary capacity when they provide care to community members in the “hogares.” When it’s the PA students turn to assess patients, give wound care and physical exams, they team up with a student from each of the other disciplines.

“Students participating in this project have a much better understanding of what it is the other disciplines do and the value of that,” said Davis-Risen. “Students end up spending quite a bit of time teaching each other about their own discipline and specific things that might cross over.”

Davis-Risen explained that last year dental students and faculty taught the PA students how to do injections to help with pain management. When those PA students graduate and end up practicing, they would be able to provide injections for pain control to a patient that comes in with something like an abscess and are not able to see a dentist right away.

Davis-Risen also found that when students from other disciplines participate with Occupational Therapy programs, they develop an understanding of what exactly an OT does, as well as the wide extent of what treatments they can offer to patients.


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