M4s make dreams come true with volunteer trip to Hilton Head Clinic – News from the School of Medicine

Students from Wayne State University School of Medicine spent three weeks caring for patients at the Volunteers in Medicine clinic in South Carolina.

Wayne State University School of Medicine medical students Michelle Malik, Erika Palanco, Erin Leestma and Angelina Palacios finally made it to Hilton Head Island, a destination that had been in the works for more than two years for the fourth-year foursome whose trip to volunteer at a clinic was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic a day before their scheduled departure.

“Finally arriving on Hilton Head Island was a dream. It was so disappointing to find out that the 2020 trip had been canceled due to COVID literally the day before we left,” said Leestma. “Thanks to the hard work of Camilo Guzmán, one of the participants of the 2019 trip, he orchestrated for us a return to the VIM clinic during our fourth year, and we were able to take three full weeks to really integrate ourselves into the culture of Hilton Head and learn how Dr. John Newman, CEO of VIM, ran the free clinic.

The quartet finally succeeded in May, providing care and services as Spanish translators to doctors and staff at the Volunteers at the medical clinicor VIM, on Hilton Head Island.

“It was exciting to be able to come back and volunteer there and represent the School of Medicine and LMSA. Personally, I was invigorated by this trip. It reminded me how much Spanish-speaking doctors really are. needed and wanted,” Palacios said. “I had a patient to whom I was able to report that her ultrasound showed her lump was a lipoma and she had nothing to worry about. She cried and m ‘ asked several times to make sure she understood that everything was fine. I can only imagine that without the reassurance in her native language, she might have gone home, still worried that she hadn’t understood correctly his results.

Students have fun while promoting healthy eating.

The Latino Medical Students Association works to improve the health of the Latino and Hispanic patient population by volunteering and encouraging members of the Wayne State University School of Medicine community to become better physicians for the Latino and Hispanic populations. The 2022 trip was made possible through the support of WSU School of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Association.

“I think what made this trip so special was that we are here, on the verge of the fourth year, with all the skills and medical knowledge that we have acquired in the meantime, and have the ability to assess and to accurately diagnose patients and provide that care in their native Spanish language,” Leestma said. “Because we were further along in our training and had a good basic knowledge – thank you, Wayne! – I think it allowed us to better assimilate the clinical reasoning and the diagnostic information of the clinic specialists.

The clinic is funded entirely by donations and remains in operation through the volunteer efforts of staff. The students’ translation skills were invaluable in a volunteer-run clinic that serves a predominantly Spanish-speaking population.

“Much of the population that the clinic serves is of Hispanic origin and English is a second language for them. The clinic does its best to serve them, but they rely on volunteer language interceptors to help them every day,” Palacios said. “As interpreters and medical students, we were able to build bridges between healthcare and patients. We were also in the unique position of being able to answer general medical questions and help patients understand the care they were receiving.

Hilton Head Island is located near Port Royal Sound, which was a Spanish fort in the 1500s called Santa Elena. As of the 2020 census, the Hispanic population of Hilton Head Island was 13.4%, significantly larger than the Hispanic populations of other southern United States resorts.

Angelina Palacios

“When it came to speaking Spanish to patients, I felt like my Spanish skills had been underutilized since coming to medical school and it was so refreshing to be able to practice my two great loves (Spanish and medicine) at the same time. I think this trip really reinforced my desire to work in psychiatry as a bilingual mental health professional,” said Leestma. “Psychiatry and behavioral health was unfortunately one of the less developed for patients in the clinic. It was particularly frustrating for me to see patients in distress and not being able to offer them the timely therapy or the appropriate medications that they deserve. I think this highlights this we are already seeing in the rest of the country — a shortage of mental health providers for the growing need for mental health services, now exacerbated by the vulnerability of a population with limited English proficiency and limited knowledge of how to navigate the health care system. It is my hope and desire to return to the island sometime after my residency to give back to the people who made our stay at VIM Clinic on Hilton Head Island so special.

The students worked with doctors in 23 specialties, alternating internal medicine, orthopedics, nephrology, pediatrics, surgery, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology, rheumatology and cardiology.

“It was so pleasant to work with specialists. Several of them had lived a full clinical career before retiring and coming to practice at the VIM clinic. Many of them shared their wisdom on patient care, what it was like while they practiced, and how much medicine has changed over the years, which is really something we don’t have. always the opportunity to be exposed or appreciated during our medical studies. school,” Leestma said. What I love about primary care is that you can see and meet all kinds of people with all kinds of stories. I made it a point to work with a variety of specialists because I wanted to expose myself to as many styles of clinical practice as possible.

Donald E. Patel