April Newton, M.S.P.T., describes a medical service trip she took to poor areas on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia a decade ago as “literally life-changing personally and professionally.”
“I was looking at the different ways of providing health care without all the tools,” says the instructor and director of clinical education in DMU’s physical therapy program. “You use your education in a much more creative way. You learn to adapt.”
Last August, Newton got to share that experience with Assistant Professor Laura Covill, D.P.T., P.T., OCS, and three physical therapy students during a two-week medical service trip to St. Lucia through DMU’s global health department.
Working primarily at the 110-bed St. Jude Hospital on the island’s southern tip, the students gained exposure to a wide variety of cases and, with their professors, gave in-service presentations on topics chosen by the hospital staff.
“Teaching lasts. The hospital staff will remember ‘DMU brought me that training,’” says Lindsay Dean, D.P.T.’10. “We emphasized patient education, too – how they can take better care of themselves and their wounds.”
Tragically, two weeks after the DMU group left St. Lucia, fire swept through St. Jude Hospital, killing three patients and forcing others to be discharged or transferred to other hospitals. The hardships the fire caused only stoked the students’ desire to serve patients.
“It sparked my passion for physical therapy,” says Katie Schultz, D.P.T.’10. “I came back with such a desire to better my skills.”