By Adlin Noel, Upstate Respiratory Therapy student
As a trained respiratory therapy student who also plans to become a doctor, I took part in one of the greatest experiences in my life through a medical trip organized this summer by Upstate’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Along with four medical students (Caroline Kirby, Rachael Kuch, Leonardo Meehan and Kellsey Peterson) and a nursing student, Joanne Speicher, I spent two weeks in El Sauce, Nicaragua. I had the opportunity to observe and learn different medical procedures, and put them into practice.
My expectation was to learn from Nicaraguan medical experts while enhancing my ability to think critically and come up with appropriate diagnoses. This trip helped me meet those expectations and certainly increased my enthusiasm to move forward in this great journey of medicine.
This trip was organized in conjunction with the Enlace Project, a not-for-profit in Nicaragua that helps develop small businesses with micro loans and training, and offers great learning and volunteer opportunities for students.
We worked with local physicians, who know the cultural and economic aspects of the community very well. As a trained respiratory therapy student, I had a great foundation in many aspects of health, specifically in the respiratory system. I was able to assist with vital signs, physical examinations and vaccine administrations. It was also easier for me to deal with patients whose respiratory systems were compromised.
On my first day, I was quickly able to diagnose a patient with symptoms associated with pneumonia. Under the supervision of one of the Nicaraguan doctors, I interviewed the patient and came up with an appropriate intervention. A chest X-ray was not done due to lack of equipment, but the information was enough to proceed with a treatment plan.
As someone who was born and raised in an underserved country (Haiti), I understand the hardships many people face. I love doing humanitarian work, for I believe living without making a positive impact on the world is a wasted life. In 2011, I traveled to Haiti to participate in an ethnographic study of the impact of the major earthquake which struck there in 2010.
I wrote a peer-reviewed article, “Lack of Transparency, Accountability, and Victims’ Participation in Decision Making: Haiti’s Major Threat,” published this summer in “Practicing Anthropology,” a journal of the Society for Applied Anthropology.
I am convinced it is my duty to lead, inspire and care for those in need. People around the world need our help and I believe it is our duty to act. As I reflect on this experience, it has enhanced my enthusiasm and certainly will assist me in bringing success to the medical field. This opportunity is offered every year at Upstate, and it is a great opportunity everyone should consider. Together we “serve, learn and lead.”