By Sarah Geegan, Craig Borie
Shoulder to Shoulder Global's May 2012 brigade to Ecuador marked the fifth anniversary of the Centro Médico Hombro a Hombro program in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. Students, faculty and staff from the UK College of Health Sciences, UK College of Arts and Sciences, Transylvania University as well as members of the community attended to 704 patients at the Centro Médico and partnering communities.
Special activities for the fifth anniversary included a special celebration with community members and key partners to commemorate the occasion. Dr. Tom Young from the Department of Pediatrics in the UK College of Medicine and Dr. Claudia Hopenhayn from the Department of Epidemiology in the UK College of Public Health were recognized for Shoulder to Shoulder Global’s continuing efforts to improve the welfare of poor communities, while developing the skills of students, faculty and staff.
Brigade evening events included daily group discussions to reflect on the challenges and rewards of the experience. Topics ranged from clinical, cultural and personal experiences, while brigade members worked together as an inter-professional team to solve field-related issues.
"Being part of an inter-professional team in a limited-resource setting demonstrated how important each team member’s skills were to improving the health and well-being of an entire community," Craig Borie, program coordinator for the UK chapter of Shoulder to Shoulder Global, said. "With such a high level of interdependence required for success, the level of respect and comradery within the group was truly amazing and inspiring."
Students worked directly with faculty to help improve the health of poverty-ridden communities while gaining valuable practical experience.
"In addition to being able to work with accomplished professionals, students learned the importance of flexibility and collaboration in their personal and professional lives, while having the opportunity to reflect on their own culture, sometimes noticing pieces of it for the first time," Borie said.
To prepare for the brigade experience, many brigade participants had previously enrolled in a credit-bearing course titled, “Inter-professional Teamwork in Global Health.” Student participants discussed topics such as cultural competency, ethics in global health brigade work and inter-professional collaboration.
Shoulder to Shoulder Global’s next brigade will arrive in Ecuador on Aug. 3 for what promises to be another amazing opportunity to learn and help serve the underserved of Ecuador.
For more information about Shoulder to Shoulder Global, please visit the website at www.stsglobal.org.