Day One-Everyone arrived safely in Guatemala on Sunday November 16. The following day, they made their way to the site of the mission.
Day 1 Guatemala
Pharmacy Team’s Perspective: PharmD Candidates
We arrived in Guatemala not knowing what to expect. There are 15 of us in total, made up of physicians, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists and us, pharmacy students. We were the only ones who were inexperienced in that everyone else had been working in their field for at least a year.
In preparation for this mission, our GPG group raised over $6,000 in donation and approximately $3,000 in medications. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that although we had medication to treat chronic disease states, it was not possible to treat patients long term because we would only be here for one week and these medications require follow up and careful administration. We then changed our thought process to try and treat the patients acutely in the best way we could with what we have.
We started the day by gathering all of our bags filled with medicine and supplies and started to organize what became our “pharmacy”. Coming into this mission trip we didn’t expect to have a lot to work with and we knew we wouldn’t be provided with all that was available in America. We had a plan before arriving, and thought we would have to be working off of one table and boxes and knew we would have to adapt to what was provided for us once getting to the site. Our pharmacy is currently made up of a table, book shelf and a metal shelving unit that was made by the community once we arrived, which is more than what we expected.
The patients started flooding in and everyone was delegated a task. It was amazing to see all of the different professions working together, and sometimes not even in their field, to achieve the best patient care possible. It really showed that even though everyone has their own specialty, we all have the same goal, and that was to help and heal our patients.
Our pharmacy was the patient’s last stop. We gathered their patient intake form and filled their prescriptions. Counseling them was the hardest part. We are familiar communicating with patients in America, but here there was a very obvious language barrier. The most helpful person in our pharmacy was our translator. She enabled us to effectively communicate important counseling points and directions for our patients to ensure they were going to use their medications correctly and would not have been able to achieve our goals without her.
As pharmacy students, being able to have this experience is life changing and really brings what we have learned in the classroom to real life. We all came on this trip to be selfless. We see the struggles in our own country’s healthcare system, but knowing an underdeveloped country like Guatemala has the same struggles without sustainable means to improve their healthcare system, we obviously felt compelled to help. Today was a very successful day and we look forward to helping even more patients in the days to come.