Nursing, medical students travel to Panama for medical brigade

A group of students from the College of Nursing and College of Medicine at Penn State traveled to Yaviza, Panama, in March 2016 on a medical brigade through Penn State Hershey's Global Brigades chapter. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Six Penn State College of Nursing students spent the week of March 12–19 in Panama on a medical brigade trip through the College of Medicine’s Global Brigades chapter.

The nursing students accompanied a group of 30 first-year medical students from the Penn State College of Medicine and seven attending physicians to the rural community of Yaviza, where they spent three days treating more than 700 patients.

“We saw a wide variety of common disease processes, ranging from parasitic infections and uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension to the common cold,” said senior nursing student Liz Breighner. “We also saw less common disorders like clubfoot, and even confirmed many pregnancies.”

Medical brigade trips give students the opportunity to perform patient assessments and diagnostic procedures under the supervision of licensed physicians. They also dispense medications and refer patients to local hospitals if necessary. While the medical students received course credit for the trip, the nursing students’ participation was totally voluntary.

“It was an amazing experience that truly made us all appreciate the health care system and available services in the United States,” said Breighner.

Outside of the three days in Yaviza, the students visited the country’s largest hospital, Complejo Hospitalario Metropolitano Arnulfo Arias Madrid in Panama City, which is administered by the national social security system.

In addition to Breighner, the following nursing students took part in the brigade: Jerley Afable, Kyle Carey, Mitchell Dent, Rebecca Felix and Ashley Mariconda.

“It was a unique opportunity to help hundreds of people while seeing what another part of the world is like,” Breighner said.

Last Updated March 28, 2016