Fourth-year pharmacy student Shaneika Walker and pharmacy faculty member Ashton Beggs recently returned from a one-week medical mission trip to Gobert, Haiti. Walker was selected for this Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) last spring. Under the supervision of Beggs, Walker was involved in all medication-related aspects of the trip planning, which began summer 2013. The medical team purchased medications from Blessings International, and it was the responsibility of the pharmacy student and pharmacist to decide which medications and the appropriate quantities to order to treat the variety of disease states encountered. Medications were packaged and labeled appropriately for shipping to Haiti for both the general and health literacy of the Haitian population. While in Gobert, Walker and Beggs were in charge of dispensing medications and counseling patients on each medication dispensed.
Walker and Beggs involved other pharmacy students in the trip preparation. During fall 2013, Belmont students had the opportunity to donate Tylenol® to be sent to Haiti for the medical mission. In addition, several volunteer opportunities were offered to pharmacy students to help count, package, and label the medications prior to shipment.
“Working with the Belmont community to help the people of Gobert was a valuable experience for all involved,” Walker said. “The trip was truly an amazing learning experience. For this APPE, I was able to apply pharmacotherapy knowledge from previous coursework while also expanding upon my knowledge of cultural sensitivity in a healthcare setting.”
Over 2,300 patients were cared for during this trip, which was organized and planned by St. Matthew Catholic Church in Franklin, Tenn. St. Matthew’s is affiliated with the Lady of Miracles Catholic Church in Gobert, Haiti through the Catholic Parish Twinning Program. St. Matthew’s serves the community of Gobert with agricultural assistance, livestock initiatives, clean water and medical care.
A medical team from St. Matthew’s has visited Gobert annually for the past eleven years to spread the love of Christ by addressing health care needs of the community. A full-time Haitian physician cares for the community throughout the year and works closely with St. Matthew’s. In 2014, the medical team consisted of physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, an information technology expert, malaria researchers, engineer and other ancillary staff. Interpreters were utilized to communicate with the patients. An electronic medical record via iPads was utilized to collect data on this population and track changes in patient health.
Beggs plans to continue to offer this APPE to a fourth-year pharmacy student each January.