While a PGY-3 resident, Dr. Neal Burkhalter described his humanitarian trip to Trinidad.
"I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a program called Advanced Medical Leadership Training 2011 (AMLT) in Trinidad. This was the 13th annual AMLT, a weeklong intensive training by Mission to the World designed to train medical personnel in leading teams into the developing world in order to support the local churches operating there.
Led by the medical directors of Mission to the World (MTW) and a team of and seven other faculty members, the course gives intensive didactic and hands-on experience in dealing with some of the unique problems one inevitably encounters leading a healthcare team into a developing nation.
How do you ensure your water is clean and safe? How do you know your food is safe even if you didn't prepare it? How do I diagnose and properly treat TB in a village with no electricity? How do you safely evacuate your team when, as you're packing up your clinic, the 150 patients yet to be seen begin to riot? How do you deal with a local national physician providing substandard care in your clinic? These, and others like it, are the situations for which this course prepared us.
We spent most of the week in Piarco with six days of didactic teaching on everything from medical updates on TB, malaria, and helminthic infections to the logistics of running a clinic in an underdeveloped, rural village to the history of global missions. The team consisted of 15 physicians, one non-medical spouse, one nurse and one marriage and family therapist.
We spent two days holding general medical clinics in two local villages. The patient load was moderately high seeing approximately 80 patients a day. In the second village we were able to spend some time surveying various aspects of the community from a public health perspective.
At the end of the week, I had certainly been medically, spiritually, and emotionally stretched. I left with much more confidence in handling some of the myriad of situations that may arise leading a team into an underdeveloped region."