In May, a group of Logan students and two professors took an opportunity to get out of their comfort zones – to learn, grow and serve in a third-world country unable to provide chiropractic care to citizens on its own.
Eight Logan interns accompanied Mero Nunez, DC, and Scott Unnerstall, DC, on a clinic abroad trip to the Dominican Republic.
“It took me 10 years in practice to experience some of the conditions we saw in 10 days in the Dominican,” Dr. Nunez explained. “The fact that the students got to encounter these things as interns is phenomenal.”
Though the Logan group treated many conditions they were familiar with, several of the complications they saw among underprivileged patients were severe and unfamiliar.
Many patients, for example, had contracted the Chikungunya virus and came to the Logan clinic for severe arthritic symptoms, a side effect of the virus. The Logan team was able to help these patients – some of whom had been bed-ridden for months – and restore movement in their joints, and walk.
The students and faculty worked hard, long days, seeing more than 500 patients for initial, follow-up and re-evaluation visits within five clinical days. The natural inconveniences of life in a third-world country presented themselves daily.
“We were not used to a lack of running water and air conditioning in the clinical setting,” explained Dr. Unnerstall. But for him, as well as the rest of the group, the challenges were well worthwhile for the experience they gained.
“The students had the opportunity to see things they don’t normally see in practice – especially the conditions poverty can cause,” said Dr. Unnerstall. He said that even though patients were impoverished, they were so appreciative of the treatment they received that they would bring the clinicians gifts.
“They gave what they could – anything from fruit to small little trinkets. That feeling when someone appreciates what you do at that level just brings tears of joy,” he said. “It’s pretty overwhelming.”
Marcel Garcia, a Tri 9 student, saw a patient who had been suffering from chronic Torticollis for 20 years. She couldn’t rotate her neck past 30 degrees, and was unable to raise her arms high enough to pick up her grandchildren. After Marcel treated her, she stepped off the adjustment table and started crying – she could finally fully rotate her neck without pain.
“Seeing the results chiropractic could bring to these patients and how appreciative they were was a very humbling experience for me,” said Marcel.
The next day, the patient came back with her grandchild just to show Marcel that she could pick her up and carry her. Additionally, the woman had driven to the clinic, marking the first time she had been able to drive herself in 20 years. Her husband accompanied her to thank Marcel and the Logan team as well, and Marcel then treated him and their grandchild.
"Almost every patient we treated said to us, ‘Thank you for giving me back my life,’" Marcel said. "We gave them the ability to do things they couldn’t do before, and I think that’s what chiropractic is all about."
"There’s only so much you can learn in school and in books. But actually applying it and seeing things you wouldn’t in your normal environment is different – students need that," said Dr. Nunez.
“Everybody came back just a little different, a little bit better of a person,” said Dr. Unnerstall.
Marcel agreed it was worth all the fundraising efforts. “It is one of the major highlights of my time at Logan,” he said.
Students: How would you like to provide chiropractic care and enjoy a foreign country at the same time? Logan University is planning another Clinic Abroad trip to the Dominican Republic, August 22-31, 2015. Space is limited to 8 students who must be in the 8th trimester or above and possess a cumulative of GPA of at least 2.75 at the beginning of the trip to participate.
If interested, contact Dr. Barry Wiese at Barry.Wiese@logan.edu
to be placed on the list of those interested! Team members will be named by June 18th!