Medicine and Health Sciences


Dr. Debra Burg


This past July, sixteen students and I from the pre-med club at Grand Valley journeyed to Managua, Nicaragua and became group A working through an International Student Learning (ISL) program traveling to two different rural villages providing basic health care to those who ordinarily were not able to be seen by physicians. We first spent an introductory day learning basic diagnostic skills, frequently used Spanish phrases and various cultural norms from the project coordinators and physicians we would be working with throughout our time there. After we spent a week at each village, initially doing house visits to observe the hazardous living conditions and conduct a census for the government then setting up clinics in local churches and treating as many patients as time allowed under the supervised care of translators and licensed physicians. The culture in Nicaragua varies dramatically from that of the United States, primarily in that many of those in Nicaragua are in general more welcoming and appreciative than those in the U.S., which I believe stems from these villages’ alarming lack of access to health care. The time I spent there was an extraordinary experience that helped further shape my desire to pursue medicine to ease the sufferings of others in situations similar to the people I encountered in Nicaragua.