Pharmacy Faculty and Students on Medical Mission in India
Earlier this month, Dr. Christine Birnie, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College, traveled with three pharmacy students to Pune, India to participate in a two-week medical mission trip. An annual trip for Birnie, the goal was to check on the progress of a makeshift clinic that she and students have played a significant role in starting over the last few years, and provide free medical outreach to the people of Pune.
Students Klara Manning, Kim Wilbert, and Alicia Habershaw joined Birnie, and the team completed a two-week free medical camp in Pune as well as a rural community outside of the city, treating over 2,400 patients.
Patients received a thorough exam from a physician on the trip, and patients over 40 years of age also received a hypertension and diabetes screening. Additionally, they underwent dental and eye screenings.
In the clinic, the students took turns each day treating patients in a different station: blood glucose check, hypertension screening, and the dispensing pharmacy. In an effort to promote preventive health, they were also tasked with creating and distributing culturally relevant educational materials at each station.
The team secured 700 donated safety lancets, a fingerstick device used to obtain blood samples, to use for the diabetes screening from MediPurpose, a master medical product distributor and manufacturer.
“Working in the clinic was a very humbling experience for me. I have a greater appreciation for things we take for granted in the United States that are not accessible for many patients in India, such as health insurance, emergency rooms, chemotherapy and insulin,” said Habershaw. “I also gained insight into how Indian pharmacy practice differs from American practice.”
Habershaw added that the experience strengthened her desire to work with underserved patients here in Rochester after she graduates.
“I know that we provided a great service to the people of Pune by working as a team. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. Regardless of the specific services provided, we managed to demonstrate a strong spiritual presence and attempted to provide unmatched compassion,” said Manning.
Birnie said the team also conducted a women's health seminar for 60 women from the community.
All patients walked away from the clinic with multivitamins, a toothbrush, and any medications prescribed by the physician.
This trip was supported in part by funding from the J. Homer Butler Foundation. For more information about the medical mission trips, please contact Dr. Birnie at (585) 385-7202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.