Penn College physician assistant students complete clinical rotations in Peru | News, sports, jobs

Photo Caption – Pennsylvania College of Technology resident physicians Erin T. Braxton (fourth from left), of Berwyn, and Catherine Coy (fifth from left), of Clifton Park, New York, celebrate in Peru with Spanish professors. The students completed a five-week clinical teaching rotation at Florencia de Mora Hospital in Trujillo, Peru, and completed coursework in medical and conversational Spanish. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Two physician assistant students at Pennsylvania College of Technology are feeling inspired and grateful after a recent clinical education rotation in Peru.

“This was an incredibly beautiful experience, and I still mourn the fact that I am no longer in Perú,” said Erin T. Braxton of Berwyn.

Braxton and Catherine Coy of Clifton Park, New York, spent five weeks in Trujillo, one of Peru’s largest cities. They completed their elective clinical rotation at Florencia de Mora Hospital, with Braxton focusing on obstetrics and gynecology and Coy on pediatrics.

“I worked with a Peruvian pediatrician who had me observe her interactions with patients and repeat her physical examinations on each patient,” Coy said.

They also spent a lot of time in classes learning conversational and medical Spanish, as well as grammar, and attended health clinics – called “campanas” – which has helped bring free medical care to underserved communities. Clinics took place in Pacasamayo – about 67 miles north of Trujillo – and the coastal city of Huanchaco, as well as a women’s prison, where the students, under the supervision of their medical Spanish professor, provided medical care to prisoners and their children.

“We brought a limited number of medications to each clinic, and with our prescriptions, patients could pick up the medications they needed completely free of charge,” Coy said. “Every patient was extremely grateful to Erin and me, many thanking us with hugs and blessings for our future. It was an incredibly humbling experience that only deepened my desire to work in healthcare.”

Both students had previously traveled outside the US and were keen to complete part of their education in South America.

“I have traveled all my life and I knew I would love to do one of my rotations abroad,” Braxton said. “I did a medical internship in Kenya for two and a half months and fell in love with learning how other countries practice medicine.”

“As someone who loves to travel, the opportunity to go to Peru for a clinical rotation was a driving factor in my ultimate decision to attend Penn College as a physician assistant student,” Coy said.

But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t afraid.

“Although I have been out of the country several times, this was the first time I was out of the country without my parents or a close group of friends,” Coy said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about this experience, but ultimately I’m so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and glad Erin was there to experience it with me. My nervousness quickly turned to excitement when we arrived and led to a life-changing experience.”

That experience extended beyond language school, health clinics and learning from medical professionals at the Florencia de Mora hospital. The duo also enjoyed the sites of northern Peru: they took an eight-hour bus ride to Huaraz, where they hiked to the Wilcacocha Lagoon and Pastoruri Glacier and took in the work of local artisans; watched surfers in Huanchaco; and explored Trujillo’s public square (Plaza de Armas), botanical gardens, restaurants and discos.

“I would encourage any healthcare provider who is able to do something like this,” Braxton said. “It is important for us to see how other countries live and how they deal with what they have. It helps us understand how lucky we are, but also how excessive and wasteful the way we live can sometimes be. People can live simple, healthy lives and be so happy, as we have often seen in Perú.”

“I was surprised to see the many differences between American and Peruvian cultures, including driving, cuisine, healthcare system and cost of living,” Coy said. “Overall, this experience has made me exponentially more grateful to work in healthcare because I feel incredibly blessed to be able to help others.”

Braxton and Coy plan to graduate in August.

“My experience in Peru has further opened my eyes to a world of travel, and I hope to do more international medicine in the coming years,” Coy said

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