January 15, 2019
Over winter break, several students from The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy represented the college on a medical brigade to Honduras with the Partnership for Ongoing Developmental, Educational and Medical Outreach Solutions (PODEMOS).
PODEMOS is a Honduran and U.S. based health care team of professionals and students seeking to combat the high rates of poverty, malnutrition and poor access to health care in El Progreso by providing quality long-term care. Beginning as a student initiative in 2008, the partnership has allowed the brigade to return biannually to provide acute and chronic care services to patients. Pharmacy students Egla Agolli (P3), Smit Patel (P2) and Emily Veach (P1) joined physicians and students from Ohio State’s College of Medicine in running a free clinic to provide underprivileged communities with primary health care services.
To assist as many patients as possible, the clinic was divided into stations, each of which tackled a different step in the diagnostic and treatment process. Pharmacy and medical students were able to rotate between intake, the acute clinic, pediatric care and chronic care, according to their interests. They helped assess patients, took vitals as needed and provided prescription education. They also provided specialty care to children and patients with chronic illnesses, measuring their development, monitoring nutrition and referring them to local providers.
Veach considers programs such as PODEMOS a manifestation of the college’s commitment to students’ personal and professional development as well as to the global community, while also setting apart its curriculum. Her desire to get involved with PODEMOS was a large part of her decision to attend Ohio State over other programs.
“I’ve always had a heart for Honduras,” Veach said. “When I learned about PODEMOS and the resulting opportunity to serve its people at a college open house, I felt an instant connection to Ohio State.”
As a veteran of the program, Veach now serves on a committee that helps plan the brigades. She believes the trip gives students a hands-on learning opportunity through the application of medications learned in the classroom to clinical assessment of patients and diagnosis of various disease states. Through interacting with patients subject to different challenges, students also develop intercultural competencies that are fundamental to an inclusive health care system.
“The most valuable skill I gained is how to step away from textbook medicine to try and understand what trench my patient is in, and get in with them,” Veach said. “Through this experience, I learned what it means to be a true patient advocate.”