Written by Jeffrey Bonnaud, a Quinnipiac Physician Assistant Student
Volunteering with Health Horizons International in the Dominican Republic was an unbelievably incredible experience, one that I will surely not forget. I can’t wait to return either as a student in part of my primary care rotation, or following as a graduate. You hear about different organizations working in medical service but HHI is unlike any other. First of all, it is staffed and run with such incredible people who all truly have a passion for global healthcare, while having a very efficient and well managed chronic care program that they focus on. Uniquely enough, HHI works with community health workers who are highly respected individuals in the communities who act as the middleman between patients and the medical staff. They check in on patients in between the quarterly clinics assessing their blood pressure, medications, etc. My experience would not have been the same if it weren’t with an organization like HHI.
As a PA student, we loaded in the trucks each morning being taken out through nothing but sugar cane fields and valleys to remote villages where the people truly depend on us. Being able to care for others who would otherwise not have an equal opportunity to be seen or managed for their chronic issues is an amazing feeling and experience. In a group of 6 PA students, we were split into shifts working between triage, the lab, or seeing patients with the doctors. When working with the doctors, they allowed me to take charge of the interview with the patient and interpreter while adding additional questions to ask if I left something out. After seeing multiple patients of similar complaints and through the education while working alongside the doctors, I soon began asking all the appropriate questions to come to the assessment and plan. Working with the medications that I had only studied hours over, everything began coming together in sync. This experience not only opened my eyes to primary care, but also continually showed my passion for global health. I would recommend working with HHI to anyone who has the opportunity!