Peru May Term, Academics | Earlham College
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Global Health in Peru

An EPIC Advantage Program

Overview   |   About the Team   |   Photo Gallery   |   Journal Entries

In May 2017, Earlham launched its first global health May Term program in Peru. Students assisted in clinics in communities that have been negatively impacted by flooding and landslides. The program was funded by Earlham’s Center for Global Health and the Center for Global Education. The three-week program allowed students and faculty to participate in initiatives organized by International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) and Partners in Health, two multinational global healthcare organizations.

About the Team

Led by Peter Blair (associate professor of biology and co-director of the Center for Global Health) and Jose Ignacio Pareja (director of the Science and Technology Commons and a native of Peru), the group of 10 students provided diabetes and blood pressure tests, health checks, fluoride treatments and doctor referrals. The program also allowed students to improve their Spanish, learn a little about the culture of Peru, and reflect on the cultural and ethical issues raised by international public health campaigns.


Peter Blair


Jose Ignacio Pareja

Photo Gallery

Journal Entries

Hannah Franklin ’17

Day 2 (May 12, 2017) — Carabyllo, Peru

One of the biggest lessons I'm going to take away from this experience professionally speaking is commitment to service. Today at our first health campaign I was talking blood pressure in a very small one-room house that the doctor was also in.

He was positioned at a plastic table in this house that had no air movement and less than ideal conditions. He was so much different than any doctor I've had experience with in the US. He was beyond patient and was sure to take his time with each condition even though we were in less than ideal conditions. It was obvious the doctor wasn't there for the money or recognition, but rather for the sole purpose of helping others.

I want to strive to be a health professional that is truly in it for the right reasons. It's easy in the US to become distracted by better pay and better benefits but I want to be someone, like this doctor, that always puts the patient first.

Day 12 (May 22, 2017) — Huancayo, Peru (Carrion Hospital)

Today while observing a femur surgery in the OR was when I really realized the difference between a surgeon and more patient center medical professionals like nurses. Instead of being hyper-focused on the surgery itself and the techniques the surgeon was using, I found myself spending most of the surgery watching the young woman's face.

She was having surgery for a broken femur but was only under local anesthesia so she was awake and could talk to the nurses. While all of the medical students and scrub nurses in the room were focused on the body and incision site, I felt drawn to the patient and watching to make sure she wasn't grimacing or in too much pain. I obviously realize the need and importance for surgeons, but I think this moment solidified my need for being in a patient-centered career like nursing.

Lessons Learned

This trip to Peru has been a big life event for me. I come from a town of 1,000 people most of which are white, conservative Christians. I have traveled all over the US, but have never before had the experiencing of leaving the country. I believe this was my first true immersion experience.

Obviously being at Earlham at four years has exposed me to new ideas and backgrounds, but I was still spent most of my time with like-minded people. So being completely immersed in a new culture, an unfamiliar, and with a group of individuals I hadn't know previously forced me to learn and adapt in a way that I never have before. I think this was one of my first true realizations that there are so many differences in this world, but that there is beauty to be found in these differences.

While in Peru I had to try to learn how to speak and communicate in a new language and also learn about a new culture and customs. I think this experience will be helpful for me to lean on in the future as it has taught me to be more conscious and sensitive to those who are dissimilar to me. I need to do a better job of understanding that not everyone is meant to fit my mold and I have to be willing to learn about their background and where they came from. In terms of the health care setting, it made me realize that there are gaps in knowledge and literacy and that I can't assume everyone will have the same prior knowledge.

This is an experience that will help shape my future as a medical professional and I learned lessons I will carry with me well into the future.

Cyrus Buckman ’18

May 12, 2017: Health campaign day 1

After a two-hour bus ride, we made to the location for our health campaign (carabayllo), in partnership with Partners in Health.

Partners in Health strives to assist people in the aftermath of natural disasters when most relief organizations have ended their work. Most relief organizations are present during the occurrence of natural disasters but leave soon after. Partners in Health endeavors to provided health services even well after disasters.

Today, our activities included checking glucose levels, blood pressure, vitals and flourization of teeth.

There was also one doctor available for consultation.

I checked blood pressures. In all, we reached about 80 people. Tomorrow we will carry out a similar health campaign but we are expecting over 300 people! We also gave out donated items like sanitary pads, diapers, toothbrushes, etc.

It’s been another good day. Time to zzz!

May 15, 2017: Orientation with FIMRC

Three main things: Access (clinical), education and participation

Health campaigns:

  • Clinical: Rotations, vaccination campaigns and health campaigns
  • Community: “Cuy,” or Guinea Pig Project. It provides gardens and guinea pigs for mothers to breed them and have iron sources to prevent anemia

Upcoming programs:

  • Portawawa: to provide information and development of babies and maternal health
  • Almanecer: to assist teenage mothers throughout their pregnancies and helping them learn craft-making as a source of income

 Cultural norms:

  • Always greet! (Buenos dias, Buenas tardes, etc. à Not just “Hola!”
  • Accept all gifts. Don’t speak too loudly
  • Use “hasta luego” (formal) and “chao” (Informal) for “see you later” and “goodbye,” respectively.

For rotations:

  • Bring scrubs and packet containing face mask and gloves
  • Name tags

For health campaigns:

  • Vest and name tags
  • Regular clothes

For orphanages:

  • Kids do not touch your phones

For surgical observations:

  • No wrist bands
  • Only mobile phones – nothing else

May 16, 2017 — 8:30 p.m.

OR and Suturing Lesson

Today, I had the opportunity to observe a surgical procedure that aligns with (hopefully) my future career. I observed a cranioplasty – replacement of part of the skull that had been kept in the abdomen of a young man.

This young man had been involved in an accident and a craniectomy was performed to reduce the pressure on his brain. Today’s procedure was to reverse the craniectomy.

I was fascinated and captivated by the carefulness on the part of the doctor to prevent any damage to the brain while prying open the skin on the head. I got to stand really close to the doctor and thought that he could be me several years from now.

I also observed a procedure to pen the nasal cavity of a man who was involved in an accident and had their breathing affected.

Later in the day, we had a lesson suturing. We learned about three times; discontinuous, continuous and invisible suturing. My favorite was the continuous suturing. We practiced using pig feet. It was a cool learning experience. It’s down time now. It’s been a good day.

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