The World Pediatric Project's (WPP) 10th visit to St. Vincent of 2017 turned out to be incredibly busy for the volunteers and, as is often the case, Trinity students were right there with them.
The urology mission was run by a team of diagnostic and surgical specialists from St. Louis, Missouri, with Dr. Doug Coplen, pediatric urology surgeon at St. Louis Children’s Hospital at the helm. His team was comprised of Thomas Bohannon, anesthesiologist; Jeanne Vogt, OR nurse; and Mary Campignotto, bowel and bladder recovery nurse. Representing and coordinating on behalf of WPP itself was Anne Koncki.
A total of fifty-seven pediatric patients were seen, some brand new cases, others were follow-ups from prior visits. More than half were identified for surgical procedures to take place ASAP. Of the total, forty-one came from St. Vincent and the Grenadines; with ten from St. Lucia; three from Grenada, and three from the recently hurricane ravaged Commonwealth of Dominica.
For those patients, a private aircraft was secured, flown to Dominica, and brought the three patients and their families to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for treatment.
While Trinity School of Medicine students spend a significant amount of time at its affiliated teaching hospital, Milton Cato Memorial, the World Pediatric Project missions are each stand-out events. Experts from the United States are coming and performing often high-complexity procedures that are not always easy to address for the local population.
Trinity fourth term student Emily Satkovich explained, “I haven’t had a lot of experience in urology prior to this, so it’s really nice to see the process and how the doctor worked up all the patients. I learned a lot today. I learned a lot about what I didn’t know, which is so important, it shows me where to start looking for more.” She continued, "This was a really great experience. I got to see Dr. Coplen work so well with his patients, and how he explained and diagnosed cases both for the children themselves and their families. He took a lot of time to keep us involved, as well. It was incredible.”
Another fourth term student, Cheyanne Brandt-Smith, immediately expressed a desire to return with WPP after she graduated. “As a student of Trinity, I was so excited to be able to join this mission,” she continued, “I am very, very glad because what the doctors are doing in dedicating their time to come down here to help these kids is what medicine is about to me. If I ever get the opportunity to come back and do the same, I will. Everything will come full circle in a very meaningful way.”
Cheyanne talked about expectations and results of the day as well. “I didn’t really know what to expect but it was so beneficial because I’ve never done a urology clinic. I got to see a lot of things I’ll probably never see again, and was surprised to see how many hypospadias there were – a lot, and they’re all going to be surgical candidates!” For context, both Emily and Cheyanne are fourth term students, the equivalent of M2s in the United States. Taking part and observing at this level while that early in medical education is unheard of in the US and Canada. Trinity's low student population allows for this sort of special access.
Both students were clearly affected by the methodology used by the team- of providing information as he did his consultations- answering queries from patients and inviting them (the Trinity students) to pose questions of their own. Emily in particular noted, "Dr. Coplen was awesome; so good at talking us through what he was doing and thinking with the patients and procedures.” They also noted his bedside manner was something they would carry with them to their clinical rotations and beyond into their practice.
As is often the case, Trinity's students were adamant that such experiences, whenever the opportunities present themselves, should be embraced for what they are, unique and incredibly educational. With the WPP's second orthopedic scoliosis mission scheduled for early November 2017, Trinity School of Medicine is ready to continue to provide opportunities like this for its future physicians.