My Clinic Abroad experience

Adjusting in the clinic

Adjusting in the clinic

I was able to talk briefly about our journey to Clinic Abroad. Well now I have time to actually talk about my Clinic Abroad experience. I had the privilege to go to Bequia, a small island in the Caribbean off of St. Vincent in the Grenadines. We were there for about 10 days providing care to the people of Bequia. I can honestly say I have never had an experience quite like this one. Everything was absolutely amazing.

We arrived on a Thursday around 5 p.m. We got to our hotel and had dinner then went down to the ocean front and got to see a steal drums performance. Every night a different restaurant had live music and dancing. Thursday night was the steel drums.

The kids!

The kids!

Friday morning was our first day of clinic. We started almost every morning going to the different schools on the island and seeing the kids. I can’t even accurately explain how excited the kids were to see us. We would have children from other schools cheering as we walked by, hoping we were coming to their school that day. At lunch we would get stopped by kids asked when we were coming to their schools.

We did a fundraiser before our trip and sold little stuffed bears to give to the preschoolers. They loved them and the stickers we gave them. It was really cool to see such young people get so excited about something we take for granted sometimes.

Playing with the kids at school

Playing with the kids at school

That afternoon we opened up our clinic on the veranda at our hotel. Our view was overlooking the ocean. We couldn’t have asked for a better set up. We ended up seeing so many people and you could tell these people were just so grateful we saw people do things they haven’t been able to do in years. We saw people get out of pain they’ve had for months. We had people come back and tell us that visiting us last year changed their lives and they haven’t been in pain since, but they just wanted to come see us and get checked just to be sure. Everyone was so happy to see us, and after we had been there a couple days, we would get stopped on the streets and thanked for being there or asked what our hours were because they wanted to come see us.

We got to be immersed in the culture. And the food was delicious. I tried things I would have never thought to have tried. I found a favorite vegetable I’ll never find again. I am terrified of sharks, so as a personal victory one day I ate shark! I tried conch, barracuda, various island fruits and had the most delicious burrito and burger I’ve ever eaten.

Hiking up the volcano

Hiking up the volcano

We spent every night at the ocean with the most beautiful views. We went on a sailboat cruise to the Tobega Keys and snorkeled at World’s End Reef, which was just absolutely amazing, even though I got slightly sea sick. The night before we left, six of us hiked the volcano on St. Vincent.

The travel back was a little rough. We had planes delayed and missed flights and more delays and sitting on runways for hours, but we made the best of it. After getting home 24 hours later than we were supposed to, we still had a great time with wonderful memories.

The beautiful beach

The beautiful beach

The first rule of Clinic Abroad is to be flexible. We learned that first-hand on the way back, but even with that, I have nothing to complain about.

I can’t express how grateful I am for this experience. I wouldn’t have changed anything. If you ever get an opportunity to do something like this, just do it. You will not be disappointed, and the people are so grateful. I can’t pick a favorite moment–I can’t pick out what I liked the most because it was all just so perfect. I went with a group of classmates and left with a group of friends. I watched my classmates transition from students to amazing doctors, and I am more than happy to call each and every one of them my colleagues and friends. We really changed lives while we were there, and I think our lives were changed as well.

An experience I will never forget

An experience I will never forget

We all learned to be a little more grateful, a little more appreciative and a little more humble.

-Allisha

Clinic Abroad: On our way to Bequia

Leaving on a jet plane!

Leaving on a jet plane!

(written on the plane)

So I wanted to try and keep an as-we-go account of the trip for you guys so you will have a better idea of how a Clinic Abroad trip goes and get to experience it a little bit through my words. With that in mind, I am currently 3,700 feet in the air writing this for you on the third out of four flights we have to take to get to Bequia. Bequia is a little island in the Caribbean. It’s a part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that is our destination.

Our flight left yesterday (Wednesday) at 4 p.m. out of Moline, Ill. (Moline and Davenport are part of the Quad Cities). So after seeing patients all morning in the AHC, I left at about noon to finish throwing last minute things in my bags, grabbed lunch and was to the airport by 2 p.m. We checked into Moline with our next destination being Chicago then Miami.

We were to overnight in Miami, but to make things easier, we checked our bags straight through to Barbados. Trying to make things simple, I put all of my over-night things into my checked bag. So when we were told our bags were being checked straight through, I had to dig through my bag for essentials. In this case, that included contact solution. So I was going to Miami with contact solution and a toothbrush. No problem. That other stuff isn’t necessary!

Our flight out of Moline was only a few minutes late, again not a problem. We board on our way to Chicago, which turns out is like a 26-minute flight. I tried to study for Boards a little bit, but by the time I got my book out, the plane was landing.

We got to O’Hare, grabbed some food and got to our terminal. Our layover wasn’t a really long one. Then we got the announcement that the plane was undergoing maintenance. First it was the hydraulic hose, so our 7:10 p.m. departure turned into 7:30. Then they were waiting on another part. Our departure changed to 8:30. Let me remind you, I’m pretty sure it was -50 degrees out there (slight exaggeration), so those maintenance men are out there for an hour now working on this plane, probably frost-bitten. They’re working slowly, and our departure is now 9:30.

Finally, after numerous updates of all these bad situations, the repairs are done and the maintenance men came out into the terminal to a warm welcome of applause from tired travelers.

We finally start boarding at around 9:30 on our way to Miami! We arrived in Miami around 1:30 a.m., I believe. By the time we get to our hotel rooms, it was after 2 a.m. By the time we got to bed, it was 3 a.m. That gave us three and a half hours until our wake-up call for our next flight to Barbados–6:30 a.m. came fast, and we were all on zombie status. The only thing keeping us going is knowing we’re going to be in 80-degree weather on the beach at some point today!

The morning went smoothly. We had breakfast, got on the plane and are currently en route to Barbados. Almost everyone is asleep or studying for Board exams. We have one more flight to go to get from Barbados to Bequia on a miniature plane, and we couldn’t be more excited to arrive and start changing lives!

Despite the minor delays, we’ve had a great time on our long travel days. If you learn anything from Clinic Abroad, it’s that you must learn to be flexible! It will all work out in the end. Make the best of the experience because it will be the best experience!

-Allisha

Another tri done!

My new home on campus ... the Davenport Clinic in the Academic Health Center!

My new home on campus … the Davenport Clinic in the Academic Health Center!

The trimester has come and gone once again. These last couple of weeks have just been preparing for just that–the end of the trimester. We haven’t really been doing much except spending more time in clinic. The 9th and 10th trimester students are finishing up their adjusting credits, so my trimester is starting to take over more of their patients.

Other than seeing patients we’ve gotten through finals. This is the first trimester we haven’t had a full week of finals. Our last test was on Tuesday, then we flew out Wednesday for Clinic Abroad. I went to clinic in the morning, saw a few patients and had to be at the airport at 2 p.m. More on that to come!

Eighth trimester flew by. Everyone says it’s the most laid back trimester, and finally something I was told so long ago in first trimester has been right! I really enjoyed this trimester finally getting into the outpatient clinic seeing patients with more complex cases and not being in class all day! At first I was having a hard time dealing with all my free time. I wasn’t sure what to do with all of it, I got over that quite quickly with a lot of netflix and naps. I had 7 trimesters of naps to catch up on and 8th trimester was a great time for that.

That being said, I’ve had a great time in my first trimester in the outpatient clinic. I have seen a wide variety of patients all making improvements and some already fully recovered. I’ve used skills I didn’t think I would use much. Most surprisingly I went into clinic thinking I would be using mostly one technique, and I have actually used a wide variety of adjusting techniques. The one I thought I wanted to use the most, I probably used the least. It is all about finding what fits best for you and your patients, and that might not be the same thing for every case. I’m excited to see what 9th trimester brings.

Now, I’m off to Bequia!

Mock clinic for Clinic Abroad

An example of one of Palmer's Clinic Abroad clinic in India

An example of one of Palmer’s Clinic Abroad clinic in India

We had our first mock clinic for Clinic Abroad. We met in the gym and went over a few rules and just discussed how a regular clinic day would go while we were in Bequia or India. Then we took our equipment up to the second level of the gym to set up our clinic the same way we would be setting up the clinics each day in the areas we were visiting.

We were given limited space, so we knew how it would feel while we were actually there. The clinic we are going to be working in, in Bequia, is actually going to be smaller than where we were in the Palmer gym. So we all will be working very closely.

This was our first exposure to the actual paperwork we will be using in the clinics. It is quite a bit different from what we use in our campus clinics, since there are different requirements that need to be met abroad, as we are not seeing patients that get regular care.

Bequia Clinic Abroad

A Palmer student intern adjusting a patient at an orphanage during a recent Clinic Abroad trip to Bequia (Photo by Taryn Foster)

We ran through the full exam exactly how we are supposed to with our patients to get some exposure, so we don’t get there and have no idea what we are doing. I think it just got everyone really excited.

We got to work through some actual patient cases so we knew what kind of patient care we would be providing and what some of the past cases had been. It was something fun and enjoyable to come back to after the Thanksgiving break. I am really looking forward to going.

-Allisha

Clinic Abroad is getting closer!

Getting ready to fly

Getting ready to fly

We had our first Clinic Abroad meeting of the trimester. We got information on where we’re going financial aid information and our itinerary. In total, to get to Bequia and back, we will be taking nine different flights and possibly a boat ride! A lot of people are a litttle uneasy about it. I’m excited. I love everything about traveling, even the airports.

We got to see pictures of the places we will be adjusting … and the place in which we’ll spend the most time overlooks the ocean! We will also be visiting a lot of schools during the day and taking care of a lot of preschool children. I am excited and nervous at the same time. We haven’t gotten a lot of hands-on experience with small children, so it will be a complete learning experience.

Whales

Whales

We get a couple free days to go and do as we please, and one day we’re going to go on a boat cruise! Bequia is also one of the last countries where whaling is legal, and we will be there during whaling season. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this. I thoroughly enjoy whales, but this is part of their culture and they aren’t doing it for sport. We were told the island is full of whale bones and there are even restaraunts that have them on display. That I’m looking forward to quite a bit because, even though the fate of the whale was unfortunate, who wouldn’t want to see whale bones? I can’t believe we leave in 3 months! It came up so quickly. I really just can’t wait to be adjusting all day and changing some lives!