Ninth medical mission to Peru is largest to date

Posted at 8:46 AM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 08:46:03-04

For the ninth year, students, faculty and alumni from Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, traveled to South America for the annual Peru Global Outreach Program. This year the program had 80 participants, the largest group to date.

The trip, which took place in August, is offered as an elective to the medical students, and them a chance to experience a new culture, while honing their clinical skills and working with Peruvian physicians and researchers.

"This year we were able to offer our students a unique opportunity being that this was our largest group yet,” said Joseph Gorz, an MSUCOM alumnus and clinical faculty member. “Our students worked one-on-one with multiple primary care and specialty physicians, including a newly added radiology rotation, giving experience with digital X-rays and ultrasound equipment.

The group included 31 medical students and 27 physicians, and together they treated 2,334 patients. Care was provided at the Santa Rosa Clinic in the city of Iquitos and to residents living in three remote villages along the Amazon River. The specialties represented included family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, dermatology, radiology, ENT, emergency medicine, OB/GYN and neurosurgery.

“MSUCOM is working to establish the Santa Rosa clinic as a continuity site staffed by a full-time physician and available to our students for electing rotations year round. To accomplish this, we’re working with Project CURE to equip the clinic,” noted Gary Willyerd, MSUCOM associate dean at the Detroit Medical Center site and an alumnus of the college. “This will allow Peruvian physicians to care for people using equipment that we often take for granted in the U.S. – EKG and ultrasound machines, microscopes and basic medical instruments.”

In addition to caring for the Peruvian people, the students also took part in research projects. Since the Peru outreach program began, students have developed nearly 70 research abstracts. This year there are nine abstracts in process following the trip, according to Shane Sergent, an alumnus and resident at Duke Lifepoint Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

The largest study was an air quality investigation that was a joint project between MSU’s colleges of veterinary and osteopathic medicine, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the Institute of International Health and a Peruvian college, Universidad Cesar Vallejo.

To learn more about the 2016 Peru Medical Elective, read the student blogs at