HES Students Participate in International Service Learning Experience in Belize

HES Students Participate in International Service Learning Experience in Belize

January 29, 2014
Belize-Nicole Panis-Emma Phelps

From left to right, sophomore Philip Schuchardt (Biology), junior Nicole Panis, and junior Emma Phelps work at a clinic pharmacy in Belize. Phelps said interacting with patients one-on-one was a learning opportunity for students on the trip.

Nicole Panis (Health Science) and Emma Phelps (Exercise Science) spent nine days in Belize with Truman’s AMSA during winter break (December 15-23, 2014) for an International Service Learning experience.  While there, the students worked in a clinic pharmacy and assisted patients.    Nicole stated “the students worked a total of around 56 clinic hours that included visiting villages and taking information on families that would be coming to our free clinic the following day. Then during clinics we would take vitals, do physical exams and present the case to the physicians we worked with where they would ask us questions to help us determine the diagnosis on our own.”  Nicole said she was astonished at the lack of availability of basic over-the-counter  medications.  “People came to the doctor to get an aspirin or vitamins.”   She also experienced the local population’s general lack of knowledge about personal health and hygiene.  According to Nicole, “one young woman came to the clinic because she was experiencing cramps and the onset of her first menstruation and thought she had a serious disease.”

Nicole summarized her experiences this way:  “This trip meant more to me than many of my shadowing experiences among doctors. I have never been so out of my comfort zone (by language and knowledge) and it was incredible to me how I emerged at the end of each day. I felt that every aspect of the trip gave me real-life experience that cannot be compared. The trip was worth every cent; in fact, it was priceless. I received advice from doctors, was able to practice Spanish on my own, and worked my way through a diagnosis with signs and symptoms I retrieved on my own. I truly know healthcare is the place for me!”


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