Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama
How long was the ultrasound-related portion of your trip?
8 weeks total – we split into 3 groups! The entire time, everyone was there for 4 weeks each (could have stayed longer if we wanted) but we did this to get data for our US projects over an 8 week period.
How many UCI medical students were a part of your team?
Did you conduct ultrasound research? If so, what type?
Yes we conducted two studies. The first was our Rural Obstetrical Triage Exam (ROUTE) study. This study showed the ROUTE can be used by minimally-trained healthcare professionals to identify high-risk conditions in pregnant women in developing countries. Our second study was attempting to evaluate clinical dehydration in children in Panama. This studied concluded that American standards of clinical dehydration could not be applied in Panama because our data indicates that the majority of children who are dehydrated by the IVC/Aorta threshold are in fact asymptomatic. Further research is needed to identify potential compensatory mechanisms that may be allowing indigenous Panamanians to function under conditions of dehydration that would normally pose a problem in America.
How many abstracts did your group (in total) submit to the World Congress in Ultrasound Medical Education Conference in Montreal this year?
Which other conferences did your group submit abstracts to?
At this time WCUME is the only conference we have submitted abstracts for.
What types of clinical activities did you participate in aside from ultrasound?
In Panama we traveled to different clinic sites multiple times a week. At these clinics we got to work on our triage skills (taking histories, blood pressure, pulse, pulse oximetry) in Spanish. We also learned how to treat and diagnose patients with the physicians on staff in very minimally supplied clinics. Additionally we had the opportunities to learn to read urine tests and give injections. Doing OBGYN ultrasound measurement assessments were part of our ROUTE study so in addition to performing scans for the study we did it for any woman who was pregnant and wanted to have a routine ultrasound. We also focused on patient education regarding health and sex education.
We had weekend off, so we spent our weekends exploring the chain of islands around where we stayed. In our free time we snorkeling, surfing, island hopping, chocolate and coffee tasting, boating, hiking and we even had time to stop in Panama City and see the Panama canal. Some people went to Costa Rica and Peru after the trip.
“An unforgettable experience that challenged me each day to become the best possible version of myself for the service of others.” – Annasha Vyas, MS2
“This was an amazing once in a lifetime adventure that taught me a lot about medicine and myself, while bringing me closer to my classmates!” – Katherine Moran, MS2
Recommendations for those going to the same place next summer:
This trip will teach you to “go with the flow” and to learn to thrive outside of your comfort zone. Be prepared to have your limits tested, to learn a lot in a fast-paced environment from people around the world, and to eat hot sauce on everything. Be prepared to really “rough it” for the whole month and step out of your comfort zone – it’ll be well worth it in the end 🙂