Students take free medical clinics to the Dominican Republic

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TCU Students travel to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission trip.
TCU students travel to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission trip.

A group of TCU students spent spring break in the Dominican Republic hoping to get experience in the medical field but many said they got a life changing experience instead.

The TCU chapter of the Global Medical Training (GMT) organization traveled to four different communities and worked with doctors and translators to serve those people, said Abby Mather, a sophomore psychology major.

Avery Haugen, president of the GMT at TCU said the goal of the trip was to host free clinics for small communities that otherwise have very little access to healthcare medications.

“We treated 937 patients over the course of four days,” Haugen said. “The most common treatments prescribed were parasite treatments and antibiotics but we also gave out a lot of vitamins to people of all ages.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said external causes make up 20 percent of deaths in the Dominican Republic and infectious diseases make up eight percent.

GMT is an international organization founded by Dr. Wil Johnson in 2003 to help impoverished communities in Central America.

Belle Strum, a sophomore nursing major, said the trip was a great way to gain experience in the medical field.

“We set up a clinic in a school or church in different rural villages each day of the trip,” Strum said. “Many of the people we served were actually Haitian immigrants who came to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugarcane fields.”

Strum said the biggest impact of the trip was that it reassured herself why she wanted to study medicine.

“In the US, many people in the medical field get distracted by just wanting to make a lot of money and make a name for themselves, but the doctors on our trip were so passionate about serving and helping,” she said. “That’s something I want to strive for and carry with me into my future career.”