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    Many of our students participate in extracurricular activities, many of which involve giving back to the community.  Read about their experiences below.


    Kurt Deschner, IMP Class of 2015

    Kurt didn't waste a minute of his time away from studies in summer 2012.  Read about his adventures and experiences below:

    Immediately following the conclusion of exams in early June, fellow classmate Melanie Van Soeren (IMP 2015) and I, along with a mutual friend, sought out a good way to get our limbs moving after the study grind. We launched off for an 1800 km bicycle tour down the coast highway to arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge [San Francisco] 22 days later.  We camped and spun our way through the torrential downpours of Washington, up and down the unforgiving hills of Oregon, and onward through the awe-inspiring, eewok-infested Redwood forests of Northern California.  It was an amazing experience amongst great friends on one of the most phenomenal roads in the world.

    Upon return, I was fortunate to play a role in the wedding of dear friends, Timothy Ratzlaff (IMP 2014) and Andrea, in what I am sure all attendees would agree was an exceptionally fun and beautiful occasion.

    The following day I jumped onto a plane headed for India to partake in the UBC Global Health Initiative Spiti Health Project, alongside Kimberly Allan (NMP 2015) and Zoe Zimmerman (VFMP 2015). Building on the work of the June UBC team, we worked with students at Munsel-Ling Boarding School for children in northeast rural India, a vast desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas. The unique culture is distinctly Buddhist, with people of Tibetan heritage making up a large portion of the population. We engaged in sustainability projects that built on the foundations that have been laid by previous UBC teams through collaboration with a local community NGO [Non-governmental Organization], a Vancouver-based NGO (TRAS) and several other foreign NGOs (Dutch, Australian). Our team primarily focused on progression in areas of health/hygiene education, agriculture/greenhouse development, and research in gaining insight into community health perceptions. 

    We developed project manuals and a UBC exit strategy to leave the community with, which encompass a multi-year plan towards attainment of self-sufficiency. In return we have lasting impressions and cherished memories of a rich culture with tremendously kind people, and in addition, a whole new appreciation for Chai milk tea!

    Kurt in Himalayas

    IMP Class of 2014 students help out rural medical students in Nepal

    IMP students in NepalDr. Jane Gair, faculty member with the IMP, is involved with the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS), a small medical school located in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal with a mission to train improve the the health of rural Nepalese people by training a new generation of Nepali doctors willing to live and practice in underserved rural areas of the country.  Dr. Gair has travelled to PAHS several times, most recently in March 2011, as part of PAHS's Advisory Board, to help devlop curricula and give lectures to the Nepali students.

    In the summer of 2011, three IMP students (Keira Dheensaw, Candace Pearson and Katelyn Sorenson, IMP Class of 2014) travelled to PAHS as part of a larger group of UBC medical students involved in Health Trek:Nepal, to tutor and run workshops for the medical students at PAHS.

    Find out more about PAHS and the experiences of Dr. Gair and IMP students in a featured story on the UVic Office of International Affairs website.

    Christopher Heyd, IMP Class of 2014

    Chris spent 4 weeks this summer as a health care volunteer in rural India.  Here is a brief report on his experience.

    Where did you go and what did you do?

     I went to India with three other UBC med students (including Alastair Teale from the IMP Class of 2013) to work on a health project with
    a couple of local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  I connected with this opportunity through the Global Health Initiative (GHI), run out of the UBC Department of Family Medicine.  We spent four weeks in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India, hiking from one remote village to the next.  In each village, the NGOs would gather the children and we conducted basic health screens.  Afterwards, we gave workshops on tooth brushing and hand washing to the children and led discussion groups on social development, sexual health and maternal care with the girls and women. 

    What prompted you to undertake this activity?

    I have been involved in international development work for years, but this was my first chance to go and volunteer in a health care capacity.  I chose to go with GHI because they have a philosophy of working with local agencies that ensures the long-term sustainability of the projects. 

    Chris HeydAnything in particular stand out or make an impression on you? 

    We spent more time traveling than actually working with the local kids and women.  At first, our team was frustrated by this, but we came to understand that the villages we were visiting are so remote that this was inevitable.  Some of the places were so isolated that we were the only health care providers to visit in years!

    Will this experience help you in your medical studies or future medical career?

    I will continue to be involved in international health in the future.  Professionally, it will help me to understand my patients, especially immigrants and refugees.  Personally, I believe it should be part of an ethical life in the first world, as we could not enjoy our lifestyle without dependence on the developing world.  We have a responsibility to give back. 

    Anything else you want to add?

    One of the joys of the trip was meeting the NGOs and seeing how hard they work for social change.  It was inspirational. 

    Edmond Li, IMP Class of 2014

    Edmond spent 4 weeks this summer volunteering in a health clinic in Washington State.  Here is a brief report on his experience:

    I volunteered for a month in Washington State at a clinic for people without medical insurance, funded by a church called New Heights.  Back when I was in elementary school and before I knew that Canada had such extensive medical coverage for its citizens, my firstEdmund Li reason for wanting to become a doctor was to help those who couldn’t afford healthcare.  So when I heard about this opportunity from an upper year student, I immediately signed up.  Each day in the clinic consisted of interviewing patients and reporting back to my preceptor, learning to chart properly, and shadowing the various specialists who visited the clinic to volunteer their time.  Then there would be a “debriefing” at the end of the day with my preceptor, at which point we would go over my charting and discuss topics to do with faith and medicine, such as medical ethics and ways to address spiritual issues with patients.

    Two things really stood out for me in that month at the New Heights Clinic (NHC).  The first thing that amazed me was how open patients are to matters of God and spirituality.  I’ve heard it said that addressing spiritual issues with patients can be awkward and out of place, but at NHC, I realized that it doesn’t have to be.  During that month, I learned many techniques that I can do to address spirituality in a way that is natural and patient-centered.  The second striking thing was the degree of conviction the doctors involved at the clinic had for serving the disadvantaged.  My preceptor, for example, had devoted the better part of her career to serving at the humble clinic, and comes each day with a loving enthusiasm to serve her patients.  The doctor whom I stayed with bought his house with the intent of lodging medical students in mind, so that more students like me can come and have experiences like mine.  

    Even though doing many consecutive days at the clinic was trying at times, I’m extremely glad I went to NHC, because from these doctors I saw what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” in the clinical setting.

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