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AMSA wins second annual College of Natural Sciences Service Award

AMSA wins second annual College of Natural Sciences Service Award
AMSA volunteers pose for a picture in Nicaragua.



For its work bringing one-on-one medical care to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the UT chapter of the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) has been awarded the second annual College of Natural Sciences Service Award.


AMSA’s main goals are to bring together students who are interested in medicine, to ease their transition into medical school, and to spread awareness about some of the problems facing the medical community today. One such problem is the lack of basic medical care in the developing world.

In an attempt to learn more about and, at the same time, help to address the issues, UT’s chapter of AMSA decided to get involved. As a result, last year a group of students gave up their spring break to travel to Costa Rica. This year, Andrew Matthys, their current president, led a group of students to Nicaragua.

Their plan was to work with Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures (VIDA) to set up temporary, free clinics in rural areas. Before they left Austin, the students gathered almost $500 in medical supplies to dispense on the ground in Nicaragua. To get supplies, they ran medicine drives, collected donations and approached doctors for contributions of hypodermic needles, suturing supplies, syringes and other equipment. In the end, they collected so many supplies that each student carried an extra suitcase stuffed full of medicine.

Matthys says that in the rural areas of Nicaragua, health care is very limited. The clinics AMSA visited, which included schools and churches, were swamped. Many of their patients walked long distances—often with all their children—to receive the basic care that these UT students could give them.

Supervised and trained by doctors, but still working mainly on their own, these students did everything from screening for STDs and treating parasites to giving tetanus shots and dispensing vitamins. Because of their hard work collecting and transporting supplies, they were able to dispense medicine free of charge to those who needed it most.

They stayed with host families for a richer cultural experience, and, Matthys says, it wasn’t all work. He says on their few days off, they toured the beautiful countryside, climbed inactive volcanoes, and even went zip lining through the rainforest canopy.

Andrew Matthys with some of his young patients.




The UT chapter of AMSA meets about twice a month while school is in session and they have a highly involved base of active members. They hold regular social and service-oriented events including: helping build and paint houses for the Blackwood Community Project, volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank, hosting blood drives, camping trips, and end of the year boat parties. They also help their students to apply for medical school and provide a supportive community for all students interested in medicine. More information on this organization can be found at their website.

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Comments 1

 
Guest - read more on Monday, 16 July 2012 19:43

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