In March, a team of 14 students and four faculty leaders traveled 3,000 miles southwest of Durham to the small town of Las Mercedes, Honduras, where they administered basic healthcare to nearly 453 local residents in four days.
The 10-day trip was part of an ongoing effort to provide Duke nursing and medical students with hands-on experience in global health while improving access to healthcare in rural areas of Honduras.
Dennis Clements, professor of global health, pediatrics, and community and family medicine, has led the annual trips since 2000, when he was asked by the Duke University School of Nursing to develop a global health education course as part of a small grant.
Alongside leaders from Heifer International, he initiated the planning and construction of a local clinic in Las Mercedes. Every year since then, he takes a team of students and faculty to that town and others to treat upper respiratory infections, skin problems, dehydration, muscular and skeletal aches and a variety of other issues.
Nursing and medical students provide care for many in mountain village
This year’s team consisted of 10 nursing students and four medical students, all of whom took Clements’ 10-week course on Honduran culture, history and views on medicine. The selected team was chosen from the class participants through a competitive application process and included people from different backgrounds in order to ensure the team had an interdisciplinary approach to their work in Honduras.
Upon arrival, the team unloaded supplies and adjusted to the elevation of Las Mercedes, a mountain town that sits 5,000 feet above sea level. They spent the following day working in the clinic, getting comfortable speaking Spanish, and reviewing how to treat the most common diseases. Each day got busier, and the last was the busiest. In just the morning on Monday, the team saw 135 patients, more than any other team had seen in an entire day.