COSAM Students Earn Valuable Experience in Dominican Republic
Twelve students studying in the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) recently had the opportunity to gain valuable experience by traveling to the Dominican Republic to study abroad over Spring Break.
COSAM Academic Advisor Katy Crider said she was looking for a study abroad opportunity for pre-health students that was close to the United States. After a site visit, where she learned the students would have the opportunity to tour and shadow at hospitals and perform services, she thought the experience would be a perfect fit for the students.
“I thought it was a really good fit for our students because of the shadowing piece, plus the service piece, which is really important to students applying to medical school, and just getting them out of their comfort zones,” Crider said, adding that there are plans to make the trip an annual opportunity.
During the eight-day trip, the students traveled to Santo Domingo, San Jose de Ocoa, and surrounding communities. They worked with the non-profit ADESJO, which is focused on healthcare and sustainability, helped in English language classes, toured and shadowed at several hospitals, worked at a pop-up clinic, visited local schools, and also worked in a physical and occupational therapy clinic.
Crider said while working with one young patient at the physical and occupational therapy clinic that “stole their hearts,” some students that were considering pediatrics confirmed their decision. Also while working in the physical therapy clinic, pre-dental student Julia Russ began to consider a career as a physical therapist.
“It was never something I had considered,” Russ said. “But while working with one of the patients, the staff told me I was a natural. Since then I have been considering becoming a physical therapist and have found a lot of great schools that offer programs.”
From having the opportunity to experience the healthcare system to the beautiful landscape and friendly locals, Russ described the experience as one of the best weeks of her life.
“What made a huge difference for me personally was at the beginning of the day we would go to a hospital and see the healthcare system there and everyone was so willing to talk about what was going on,” she said. “In the mornings we got to observe the culture, but in the evening we were immersed in the culture and felt like part of that country. It was such a cool experience.”