Project HOPE is fortunate to have a longstanding relationship with Florida International University’s Nurse Practitioner program. It’s a chance for the students to volunteer with Project HOPE to earn clinical credit and also to get a first taste of global health work in the field. Faculty from the university serve as mentors and proctors during the volunteer mission, and the students receive mentoring from military medical personnel as well.
The New Horizons mission is no exception, and each rotation has had students who have been outstanding additions to the team. One student, Carol Zamora, has been has been a key part of the pediatric unit in Peru, since her fluent Spanish allows her to see patients quickly, and assist the other practitioners with interpretation.
For Zamora, one exciting aspect is the variety of experience, and the opportunity to see different conditions that are more unusual in the States.
“We had a young boy come in this week with a pre-diagnosed neuroblastoma, and presenting with nystagmus. He was a very sick little boy, and you just don’t see cases like his very often at home.”
Unfortunately, the temporary medical site used for the New Horizons mission is set up for more acute illnesses and preventative treatment, but the pediatric team was able to alert the Ministry of Health to the boy’s case to assure he receives proper care.
Zamora has also worked in the Women’s Health clinic, a specialty that particularly interests her.Under the supervision of the Air Force gynecologist Dr. Kim, Zamora was able to perform her first female exam and she has also been able to observe several bladder prolapses. Fortunately, this rotation also includes an Air Force-Project HOPE uro/gyn surgical team set up at the hospital in Chincha. The New Horizons medical team has been referring cases to them for assessment and surgery.
Overall, it has been a great supplement to her program. “All of the doctors from Project HOPE and the Air Force have been really fantastic. They’re all eager to teach and willing to mentor. It’s been a great experience so far,” Zamora says.
But the mission has been difficult for Zamora in some respects. Being able to communicate fluently with the locals means that she is often more aware of the difficulties the patients face in their lives, since they are more able to open up and share their personal stories without a language barrier.
“One mother came in the other day and told me that she and her children sleep in the field under a tent at night, which is why they are often sick,” Zamora says. “I just wasn’t expecting to see such poverty here, and it’s been an eye-opening experience for me.”
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