New group on campus brings international experience for medical students

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    A new group on campus will give students interested in going into the medical field international experience with treating patients.

    TCU’s Global Medical Training Organization (GMT) is organizing a group of pre-med and nursing students to travel to Central America in March to participate in a medical mission trip.

    GMT is an organization that provides medical and dental aid to people in Central America, according to its website. It aims to help both natives who are in need of medical care and students looking to gain international experience in the field of medicine.

    “It’s a great program because it is the first time students can interact with patients until about their third year of med school,” said Zach Kosmatka, president of TCU’s chapter of GMT.

    Alli Joye, vice president of TCU’s GMT chapter, went to Panama with a group of students from the University of Texas at Austin last spring break.

    “My favorite part of going to Panama last year was seeing how grateful the Panamanian families were for the services we were providing,” said Joye, a junior biology major. “It was an incredible learning experience, and I’m really glad that more TCU students are going to be able to share some of those same experiences.”

    Kosmatka, a junior neuroscience major, started the TCU chapter after hearing friends who had participated in a different GMT trip came back “ecstatic.”

    “I didn’t see a reason why not to,” Kosmatka said. “There are other medical groups, but this is really the first of its kind here.”

    The students will join groups from the University of Texas and other schools to travel to rural areas of Panama, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua to work in clinics.

    Giridhar Akkaraju, an associate professor of biology, is the faculty advisor for the group. He said that this type of experience is “invaluable” for students, especially because it makes them stand out when applying for medical school.

    Akkaraju also said that being able to observe healthcare in a developing country is beneficial for those looking to go into medicine.

    The group will train on-site for one day and then will work with patients for four to five days in the clinics, Kosmatka said.

    Kosmatka said five or six doctors will go on each trip in addition to college students. Because TCU’s chapter does not have its own site for this trip, only about 10 students can go. They will then join students from other universities to make groups of about 40, he said.

    Kosmatka said that his goal for TCU’s chapter of GMT is to have a trip for every spring, summer and Christmas break.