Wednesday, July 13, 2011

International Service Learning

If you've read my earlier post on multi-culturalism and cultural competency, you know that this is a topic very near and dear to me personally and professionally.  Tonight, I'll leave with six athletic training students to embark on a two week journey into the mountains of the Dominican Republic.  We'll travel alongside nursing students, and several health care practitioners of all types to provide care to those less fortunate.   I am looking forward to returning and seeing my Dominican friends.  We'll be hiking and driving to remote mountain villages and setting up clinics; our students will be performing evaluations and prescribing rehabilitation plans under supervision from ATC's and physicians.
International Service Learning (ISL for short) combines classroom instruction with hands on learning.  We don't just travel to another country; we interact and actually treat the population.  We go into their homes, schools and churches.  True cultural immersion.  It's a great way to learn and in my opinion unparalleled.  I believe service learning should be required of every student in the U.S.   FMI, click on an editorial I wrote here. which better explains what service learning can be about for athletic training students.
It's an incredible trip every time, and can teach us all about several lessons in life.   Here are a few I've experienced.
1.  Perspective.  You don't need a lot in life to be happy.  Yes, that includes smart phones and laptops. Health and pain free living go a long way.
2. Students know more than they let on.    I get a chance to work with our students on true clinical cases.  They have to think on their feet, and make adjustments.  There are no BAPS boards or BIODEX units; we have to pick items they have handy. Our students return with sharper clinical skills, and perhaps most importantly, increased clinical confidence.
3. The real world continues to be the best classroom.

So on that note, I am off to the Dominican Republic, and will be away for a couple of weeks.  I should be back to blogging after the 28th.  Adios, mi amigos.

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