Fanshawe students and faculty prepare for medical mission to Guatemala

Lydia Quick (Left) and Yvonne Drasovean (Right) in front of the raffle table CREDIT: ALEX ALLAN
Lydia Quick (Left) and Yvonne Drasovean (Right) in front of the raffle table where photos are being shown from the first Guatemala Medical Mission trip.

Fanshawe students and faculty from the respiratory therapy program will go to Guatemala from June 10 to 17. The plan is to help provide a variety of care to the urgent care centre, a senior care centre as well as a paediatric vaccination clinic.

“It’s very rare to have an opportunity like this in respiratory therapy particularly because it is such a small field,” second-year student from Fanshawe’s respiratory therapy program Lydia Quick said.

The medical mission will offer students the advantage to practice the clinical skills they learn in the classroom. The group held a fundraiser at Chef’s Table on May 26 and a portion of the money raised will go to the clinics where the students and faculty will work.

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The group has also held other fundraisers over the past year and Quick also said they received some scholarships that have helped make this trip a possibility.

Quick said the experience will give students a chance to see how medical care works in other countries. According to Quick, Guatemala, is generally lower in supplies to help patients in need.

“It’s going to be an eye-opening experience for us to use our critical thinking and be able to help in medical work that we normally wouldn’t be exposed to,” she said.

This also means that the group might not have the same type of medications that they have in Canada and will have to try to adapt to other uses for medical treatments. Even though the group might have to adapt to helping patients with the supplies at hand, they do have a plan to try and use their time as best as possible while in Guatemala.

“We’re going to rotate in different clinics. Some may be applying oxygen or help vaccinate babies and others might be helping where they’re struggling with a lot of sick patients in a clinic,” Quick said.

This will be the second time that Fanshawe students and faculty have travelled to Guatemala. The last time they went was in 2019. Fanshawe’s professor of respiratory therapy and a clinical liaison Yvonne Drasovean said that their first trip going over there was a transformative experience for the whole group.

“I think the biggest difference was a lack of resources. One of the clinics didn’t even have soap and we also saw a dead dog in one of the waiting rooms,” Drasovean said.

The students are encouraged to research about Guatemala prior to going in terms of what their healthcare system has to offer and the differences compared to Canada’s system. Drasovean also brought up the fact that Fanshawe is the only school in Ontario to offer this opportunity to students in the respiratory therapy program.

“We try to get our students to become responsible and compassionate global citizens and learn that there’s more to clinical practice in respiratory therapy,” she said.

From selling t-shirts to bottle drives to bake sales, the group has been working hard to fundraise over the year. The gala that was set up at Chef’s Table was not only a fundraiser but also a celebration for the students. At the gala, there were three raffle baskets that were able available to win that evening. One was a Yeti cooler filled with wine as well as one that was donated from Fanshawe filled with their own merchandise of hoodies, pants, mugs and pillows. With the students preparing to learn new medical experiences while in Guatemala, they’re also preparing in other ways too.

“We are learning Spanish so that hopefully we can help dive a bit more into their culture whatever way we can,” Quick said.