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Advisers urge students to avoid performing procedures abroad

By Ariana Assaf, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 19, 2012

The University’s chapter of ATRAVES US Inc., an international nonprofit focused on providing health care aid to underprivileged areas, has continued to work to advance access to health care in countries like Nicaragua. In 2007, the organization helped build a primary school and clinic in Managua., the country’s capital.

Brady Dunklee, the executive director of ATRAVES US Inc., agreed that students working abroad can find themselves treating a patient without proper training, but added that such an incident would vary by country and organization. Dunklee said his program has never been involved in a case of an unlicensed student treating a patient.

He noted that, in the clinic, undergraduate volunteers, “are strictly limited to helping with logistics and administration.”

Though students are occasionally interested in participating in advanced procedures, program staff and volunteers are on-site to enforce limitations, Dunklee added.

LSA sophomore Hayley Martin, the vice president of public health for the University’s Honduras Health Brigade, also described how volunteer students served mainly as shadows to licensed doctors while participating in the program.

“They don’t just drop us off and leave us to set up shop. We are accompanied by at least eight staff members everywhere we go,” Martin said.

Students are responsible for establishing a triage system to record the weight, temperature and blood pressure of new patients, as well as to make a list of these patients’ symptoms. According to Martin, those that assist dentists are only permitted to handle the dentist’s tools and to observe, and to occasionally provide fluoride treatment.

LSA sophomore Adam Eickmeyer, fellow member of the Honduras Health Brigade, said the most important policy to remember is that if it’s not something a student should be doing in the U.S., they shouldn’t be participating in it while abroad.

“Just because the patients don’t have the same access to quality health care doesn’t mean we can exploit them,” Eickmeyer said.