By Emanuel Hernandez
Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) is leading 47 University of Kentucky students, faculty and community members on a nine-day interdisciplinary health brigade experience on March 11-19 in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.
The brigade will continue STSG’s tradition of incorporating academic and community partners to improve the health and well being of impoverished and underserved communities, while offering students and health professionals the opportunity to work in a multicultural and interdisciplinary setting.
The Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro clinic (CSHH), the primary worksite for UK’s STSG brigades, provides medical care, prevention services, oral health and school-based services in the community. The CSHH clinic opened its doors in 2007 as a development initiative led by UK College of Medicine professor of pediatrics Dr. Thomas Young. This year, the CSHH will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
“It is so exciting to celebrate 10 years of delivering comprehensive health services in this community in Ecuador,” Young said. “STSG and our Ecuadorian partners have provided tens of thousands of patients with services and service learning opportunities for UK students, staff, and faculty. We plan to continue to dream big.”
The brigade, which will take place during the Spring break, will be the culmination of months of preparation that included the "Interprofessional Teamwork in Global Health" credit-bearing course. Throughout the course, students learned about Ecuador, how to work in an interprofessional environment and how to apply basic principles of cultural anthropology, sociology, diversity and health care to the brigade experience.
This year’s brigade will include students from the UK Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and for the first time since 2013, Dentistry.
Dr. Enrique Bimstein, UK College of Dentistry Associate Dean for Interprofessional Education and Global Outreach, said that the brigades increase students’ enthusiasm for dental schoolwork, facilitate learning patient behavior management techniques and solidify classroom knowledge.
Whitney White, third-year dentistry student said that she hopes to gain an appreciation for Ecuadorian culture and hopes to gain valuable skills, which will allow her to make faster and better diagnoses.
“I’m expecting to do a lot of extractions, oral hygiene instruction and diet counseling,” White said. “This experience will also be unique and rewarding because I will work outside of my comfort zone. I know I will return with a new appreciation for how I perform dentistry at home.”
The next STSG brigades to Ecuador are May 12-21, June 2-11 and Aug. 4-13. The June brigade is focused on health education while the May and August ones are more clinically-focused. At this time, STSG is still accepting applications from physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and Spanish/English interpreters. Application information and a short video about the program are available at http://www.uky.edu/international/shoulder_to_shoulder.
To support STSG’s mission to provide health care services and health education to an impoverished community while giving Kentucky students a unique, transformative educational experience, click here.