Sarah Smith – Spirit of Internationalization Award. Penn State College of Medicine

>> Sara: My passion for international medicine
began when I was a junior in college. For one of the classes that we had to take, we
were offered an opportunity to go to various lectures for extra credit, and one of the
ones was called “Practicing Medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa.” >> So Sarah Smith her first encounter, or one of her first encounters was in Zambia
in 2007 where she spent a couple of months living in a little thin shack with a nurse
and a child, and she was, as she just said, she was the doctor that didn’t exist, and
she worked on organizing a vaccination campaign and a whole bunch of medical activities when
she was bio-behavioral health undergraduate student at Penn State. Following that, she
was one of the… she was the founder of the Global Medical Brigades at Penn State, which
is a student club that engages in all kinds of medical outreach activities. The Medical
Brigades have now grown to a fairly large organization that holds an annual conference,
and [inaudible] actually this past year they had 40 students down at [inaudible] activities,
and this can be traced back to some of the similar work that Sarah did in setting up
the organization at Penn State. And finally, the way that I’ve known her most was over
the last 3 years as she kind of took the lead and helped start the Global Health Scholars
Program at the Hershey College of Medicine. >> Sara: I wanted to create an opportunity
for other medical students to go to Africa and just see how medicine is practiced there
because for me it really changed my view of medicine and just kind of broadened my sense
of, you know, what it means to be a doctor. >> And here are three things that sets her
apart. One is persistence. Second is Sarah is an outstanding mentor. And finally, you
know, beyond a point, teaching and preaching goes only so far. At some point you just have
to get stuff done. >> Sara: You know, we take for granted here
that, you know, you can just go to… call an ambulance and have them come pick you up
and take you to the hospital and, you know, get checked over by a bunch of doctors, and
there you don’t even necessarily have the opportunity to see a doctor. You may have
to walk for miles and miles, and you get to a clinic, and you then have to sit outside
in a line that takes 12 hours to get through only to get to the end of the line and go
see a nurse or a clinical officer and them tell you that they know what you have, but
they don’t have the treatment for it because that shipment didn’t come in. People there
are happy, and they don’t have all the things that we have here, but they’re genuinely happy
and there is just something about that that drew me in and made me want to go back. I
think I… what I loved about it the most was just how great of a need there was for
medical personnel and how appreciative all the patients were of the little help that
I could give them, and it really just made me want to do that for the rest of my life.

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