The second 2015 Rotary Village Doctor event, a collaboration between the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Rotary Club and Trinity School of Medicine, was yet another great success for quality of life and medical education. Two doctors and eight students from Trinity headed to Lowmans Windward Primary School with the aim of working as a team to deliver consultations and give treatment where necessary in general medicine, ophthalmology, dentistry, general surgery, pediatrics, and ENT services. The students not only triaged the one hundred and seventy-eight seen on that day, they observed the procedures and interactions with the visiting doctors
According to the students, the experience was academically invaluable. Meghan Pillai, a fifth term Trinity student and Boston University graduate, explained it as, “One of the most rewarding days we’ve had. We got to see a lot of patients in a very short amount of time. It was a little hectic, first getting everybody in. We even had an emergency where the patient had to be seen immediately.” Many patients had not seen a physician in at least a year, some up to five years. There were babies and young children that had never seen a doctor at all, underscoring the importance of collaborations like this.
Another fifth term Trinity student, Dylan Carroll, a graduate of CSU Chico, added, “The fact that people were able to come here and get what they needed done is hugely important. That’s why we’re here at Trinity–to make sure that people are taken care of. To see it on this scale is wonderful!”
The Village Doctor event is of great importance to people in under-served areas. Nichole Ollivierre-Barnwell, principle of the primary school used to house the event, emphasized that many of the patients were elderly and living by themselves, unable to find anyone to take them to the doctor outside the community. Rotary 2015 President, Shafia London-Williams expressed pride in her organization’s endeavors. “This is one of our flagship programs,” she said, “I am so happy we could provide these services to person who do not have the finances to do for themselves.” She gave other advantages as being able to attend to more than one problem on the same day; receiving medication for common ailments on the spot; and being referred to specialists at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for follow-up treatment. (In those cases, Trinity students can continue to observe and interact with patients, as there are frequent opportunities to observe at the hospital).
Trinity, through collaborations like these, continues to seek opportunities for first-hand experiences for its future doctors, while also doing good for the world. Dylan Carroll particularly noted, “We’re already ahead of the game. In the States most medical students aren’t able to see patients until about year three, and we can see patients with a proctor any time. There are always these opportunities that, for most of us, were the major point in coming here. You could be taught the necessary material out of a book, but the patient experience is something you can only get in person. You cannot be taught that and that’s the beauty here!”
After completing triage, the students visited the consultation sites to observe, question, and learn from the specialists on hand as they dealt with their patients. Meghan Pillai took away a great lesson from the experience, “Today wasn’t about trying to be the best student and more about trying to be the best physician for the patients.”
While this was the final Rotary/Trinity event of 2015, the 2016 schedule is already being finalized, for the benefit of students and St. Vincent citizens alike.