Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You try and write a blog while in Med School

It all comes down to priorities and I'll be honest the blog came about last on a long list the past semester. This is going to change (I hope), as we are in the process of a peaceful productive succession. I hope to have a little more time to write about the experiences, pitfalls, ect. of founding PPS and what the future holds.

We are currently hosting the “Delegation” (JR community members who have been involved in the project from the mexico side and are visiting representatives of the church) from Juventino Rosas (JR). We have had several dinners with them this week, which have been both touching and exciting. Dr. Evan Ashkin hosted the first dinner event at his home Saturday, where we reminisced last summer and started planning the next. In attendance were physician preceptors from last year, medical students from the inaugural group, med. students from the '07 team, members of the St. Thomas Moore church, and physician preceptors that will be coming down in ‘07. I hope these experiences will help solidify for the first years who are taking over the project, that this is an amazing cultural exchange. It is more then just our medical project; it is something larger that we are building between two communities.

Moving forward, we are pushing to prepare for this summer, hoping to get fully funded. It would be nice to win a least one of the fellowships the ’07 group has applied for. But fellowship withstanding, Pam has ensured there will be stipends for the med students, and Mauricio will be funding the Cardiovascular research. Fingers crossed our alliance with Maria Farris from UNC Urology will work out; she will help us add urine analysis to the screenings we will conduct. This dimension expands our already productive Cardio research in rural Mexico, strengthens our screening to survey ratio (how much time participants spend helping us answer research questions vs. the benefits they gain from our free health care screenings), and involves a potentially valuable advisor in the project. Maria Farris is a native mexicana on faculty at the SOM who completed her medical education in Mexico. She won't be able to visit the project this year but is sending a research fellow (Scott) down in her absence. We hope our success this summer will motivate her to attend the next summer's (’08) events.

An exciting development of the past month has been the addition of faculty and students from Duke. Even and Cheryl Ashkin helped to organize a talk for Trista and I to introduce to our project to medical students and faculty at Duke. The response following the talk was overwhelming. There seems to be a large and very enthusiastic group at our neighbor institution motivated to get involved in projects like ours. Unfortunately, the curriculum for the Duke med students is not very conducive to summer projects. We are however looking forward to working with an advanced and talented Duke undergrad, a resident in Internal Medicine, and an attending physician in Infectious Disease. It is our hope to nurture this relationship and expand PPS in the future by drawing even more from the wealth of talent at Duke. Additionally, we hope to work towards expanding the project to have multidisciplinary components. There are many opportunities to involve NPs, Dental students, and undergrads; however presently we are still lacking in central resources to organize on a larger scale.

My reflection of the week: our challenges in group dynamics. We have so many enthusiastic and talented people working on the same project with different goals and priorities. This is a multifaceted project and the big picture is easily lost. It is frustrating to see people get disenchanted and opt to spend their energy on other things. However, I respect the position when someone becomes unfulfilled and prefers to prioritize their energy elsewhere. It is a matter of compromise and perspective. Any individual’s vision for this project is one of many, and to impose that vision on others could earn the disillusionment and dissatisfaction people who are valuable to the group’s success. Alternatively, it may leave them feeling valueless if people decide to go a different direction. I think the compromise is to make ones suggestions known but to be flexible; to respect other's priorities with an open mind (admittedly something I haven’t always been the best at; but its a learning process right?).

Finally, in recent exciting news Dr. Dent, a dean at UNC SOM, might visit us this summer! This is not a formal announcement, but if you see her in passing I think a little encouragement would be appropriate. She visited the Honduran Health Alliance last year and had a great time; I think she would equally enjoy and week in Juventino.

If this is not updated at least monthly this spring; someone should fire me.

Hasta Pronto!


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