I didn’t have many opportunities to travel prior to medical school, so the prospect of international medical outreach was important in my search for a program. MSUCOM’s International Osteopathic Medicine Organization is a school-affiliated club??  for students like myself that have always dreamt of seeing the world while serving others along the way. Through the club, I spent a week in Merida, Mexico and can genuinely say it was one of the best experiences of my life.

The students on the trip were sectioned off into groups and sent to rotate in a different healthcare specialty each day. There, we would shadow physicians and assist in history taking, physical exams, and even surgical procedures. Full immersion into the culture made for a novel experience that any other vacation surely could not offer. Not only was I now exclusively speaking spanish everywhere I went (and picking up more and more each day!), but I was doing it in a hospital setting through the lens of a provider. That week I had the chance to see the healthcare system of México macroscopically, nothing different in each general specialty compared to the United States, as well as through a more microscopic view, attending to patients individually.

In addition to our time spent in the hospital, the trip featured several excursions that I won’t soon forget. The students were given the chance to visit and swim in a nearby cenote, a natural cavernous pool known for their breathtaking scenery. We also spent a day at Chichén Itzá, walking the grounds of the Mayan city with a private tour guide providing backstory on the rich heritage of the area. We all stopped for pictures in front of El Castillo, the picturesque pyramid named one of the seven wonders of the new world andbefore we left, we took the chance to practice some osteopathic manipulative medicine with the most beautiful back drop we’ll likely ever have (see below). Each day also brought the chance to try a new restaurant or visit a new part of Mérida. The dishes in the area were delicious and the ambience of the city looked to be made for amazing nights out.

  All in and all in this trip! It was more than I could have ever asked for. It was a full day of medicine and service with evenings spent among friends in a breathtaking location. There was never a dull moment and I left Mérida completely fulfilled. For those considering this trip, I could not recommend it enough and I’m extremely grateful to MSUCOM whom afforded me the opportunity.

Michael Francis —

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