New York Medical College

School of Medicine

Community Connection

 

Medical MissionMedical student lends a hand at traveling medical clinic in Dominican Republic

During the summer between his first and second year of medical school, Alberto Distefano, Class of 2011, traveled to the Dominican Republic for a 9-day medical mission run by the First Baptist Church in his hometown of Wallingford, Conn. His stay was brief but intense, working in a traveling medical clinic to bring healthcare to the Haitian workers on the bateys (company towns where sugar workers live), and teaching their children how to read and write. 

Alberto spent his days taking blood pressures, helping out in the pharmacy and observing nurses as they took patient histories. The trip opened his eyes and showed him the humanistic side of medicine. “I saw such unbelievably deep devotion and love among the people in the Dominican Republic, especially the Haitians, who live in terrible poverty. Imagine having no running water, not knowing where tomorrow’s meals will come from, barely any clothing…yet they can still find happiness in life.” 

He plans to return to the Dominican Republic, perhaps working with people he met there who are planning to build a school so the children from the batey can have a more permanent education. “This was probably one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. It all came from wanting some medical experience abroad,” he says.  “I believe everyone needs to see poverty like that first-hand.”