Feb. 8, 2018 — When UF medical student Mikaela O’Connor traveled to Merida, Mexico, over spring break last year, not only did she get hands-on clinical experience, but she also got the opportunity to be involved in an exchange program of sorts.
While in Mexico as part of a global health outreach trip, she and her fellow Gators worked side-by-side with local medical students, taking turns seeing patients and learning from one another. Then, this summer, O’Connor opened her home to three medical students from Merida who came to Gainesville to shadow attending physicians at UF Health Shands Hospital.
“It was a great opportunity to travel abroad and see what other medical systems are like and see the similarities in our training and missions, and then to show them what it’s like here,” O’Connor says. “I’ve always had a passion for working with underserved patient populations — whether here in the U.S. or abroad — and this experience will help me keep that passion going in my future practice.”
On Feb. 17, aspiring health care professionals will step from the bedside to the stage for the UF College of Medicine’s annual talent show to help raise money for annual global health outreach trips to Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Mexico and the Dominican Republic while highlighting their diverse interests and skills.
“These trips allow our students to participate with local partner medical schools and nonprofit organizations to engage in care for underserved patients in a variety of urban and rural settings,” says Elizabeth DeVos, M.D., MPH, director of Global Health Education Programs for the UF College of Medicine, of the trips, which give students and faculty the opportunity to provide care to more than 10,000 patients annually. “Lessons students learn through participation in these trips emphasize key concepts in their education about local and global health equity and social determinants of health.”