D.P.T. Class of 2019 Benefits from Hands-On Experience While Providing Aid in Haiti
Seven members of the D.P.T. Class of 2019 embarked on a service learning trip to Haiti to aid the underserved population
Based on the understanding that international service trips provide invaluable academic and hands-on opportunities, students and faculty under the direction of Gale Lavinder, P.T. Ed.D, G.C.S., assistant professor of physical therapy and director of clinical education, began making an annual trip to Haiti in 2014. This past March—following in the footsteps of NYMC students who came before them— seven members of the D.P.T. Class of 2019 were thrilled to embark on a service learning trip to Haiti to aid the underserved population, gaining hands-on experience while bettering the community.
This year, the student envoy included Adam Schayek, Victor Gondor, Emma Shollar, Janis Konkle, Victoria Colon, Sam O’Keefe, Christina O’Connor and two alumni: Jill Erickson, D.P.T. ’14, and Jennifer DeMarco, D.P.T. ’14, who served as trip leaders during the first trip. In addition, Jordanna Budetti, P.T., D.P.T., an employee of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, served as the trip leader during the second trip, making this Dr. Budetti’s fourth trip to Haiti in this capacity.
Long before boarding the flight for Haiti, the students were involved in extensive preparation to ensure efficiency as well as lifelong learning outcomes. “Once the opportunity was offered to us, we did not hesitate to volunteer our time and expertise,” said Ms. Konkle. The students held various fundraisers both on and off campus. In addition, physical therapy faculty members donated money towards the trip in lieu of hosting a holiday gift exchange.
“Under the supervision of their team leader, students evaluate and treat a variety of conditions in the outpatient clinic, perform blood pressure screenings for the community one morning per week, treat children in the nearby orphanage, perform screenings at a mobile clinic in a rural area and make appointments to come to the clinic for those who could benefit from services,” said Dr. Lavinder. “Everyone they screen is so appreciative to be able to receive the care that would help them or their children.”
Although there was slight apprehension about the potential language barrier, they learned common words and phrases to help communicate with patients and used demonstrations to show patients exercises. “We were fully immersed in the culture and quickly became comfortable with relying on our knowledge to treat these patients who we could not fully communicate with. The ability to treat patients on my own helped me to see the level that my skills are at, and helped to increase my confidence in patient care,” explained Ms. O’Connor.
The country’s scarce medical resources seemed to be overshadowed by the students’ presence in Haiti. During the trip, there was an overall increase in clinical services, allowing more patients to be seen. Although the students witnessed limited medical assistance, they were empowered by the Haitians’ ability to embrace positivity through life’s challenges.
Photo from left: Consuelo Alzamora Muñoz, director of the Foundation Tous Ensemble clinic, Jordanna Budetti, P.T., D.P.T., a physical therapy supervisor at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, N.Y., and members of the D.P.T. Class of 2019 Adam Schayek, Emma Shollar, Victoria Colon, and Victor Gondor.