Belize Service Trip Inspires Future Medical Workers

Jessica Carlson, Yu Xuan Lin and Clara Wolf, pictured on the far left from left to right, volunteer at a free medical clinic in Belize. The students spent a week of their winter break volunteering in an international service-learning program geared toward providing global health.

After a week of providing medical service in Belize, students Clara Wolf, Jessica Carlson and Yu Xuan Lin, members of Truman’s American Medical Student Association, returned home with more than memories. They gained valuable experience as well as inspiration for their future careers in the medical field.

“This trip made me excited about global health. I want to go and meet people and go to places and experience what it’s like to live in different places abroad,” Wolf said. “I want to see and compare different health care systems and I want to help where I can.”

Through an international service-learning program geared toward providing global health, Wolf, Carlson and Lin traveled to Belize over winter break to aid in providing free medical clinics to communities. During home visits to community members, they were able to schedule appointments for patients at free clinics which included a physician, pharmacist and massage therapist. The student volunteers took the patient’s medical history, vitals, assisted in the pharmacy and presented the patient and possible diagnosis to the physician.

“I was able to use my abilities and passions to serve others, which gave me an indescribable amount of satisfaction,” Carlson said. “Knowing that I was able to make even a small impact on someone has inspired an increasing amount of compassion and interest to serve those in need in my heart.”

For some villages in Belize, people have to travel a great distance to get to a hospital. The free clinics were able to provide health care closer to home for people who would usually have to travel to see a doctor. Through house visits, the students saw the importance of their volunteer work. In one village they visited, there was standing rain water everywhere, and most people were using this as their source of water. They saw people who struggled with health issues including vitamin deficiency and malnutrition.

“We as Americans take a lot of our medical system and resources for granted,” Lin said. “We never considered simple things like clean water or road construction as an inconvenience because it was never applicable to our lives.”

The American Medical Student Association is a national organization committed to physicians-in-training. As future physicians, Wolf, Carlson and Lin joined AMSA. They attended the Belize trip after hearing about a prior trip done in Jamaica.