Medical Alumni Association

Jessica Lu, MS-3


This April, I traveled to San José el Negrito, Honduras as part of the Shoulder to Shoulder Pittsburgh medical brigade. Shoulder to Shoulder Pittsburgh and the UPMC Department of Family Medicine has been partnering with the village of San José el Negrito since 2000, and in the interim, a lot of incredible developments have been made. The village once had virtually no medical services available, and now there is a well-established clinic with a full-time Honduran doctor and nurse.

Our time in the village was divided between assisting in the pharmacy, seeing patients in clinic, and traveling to neighboring villages to perform well-child checks at schools. The patient population was extraordinary with a lot of complex medical and social issues. The well-child visits were also fascinating to see the differences in health between villages only miles apart from each other. For instance, we saw an enormous range in dental health, which was possibly linked to easy access to sweets, poor health education, and/or lack of access to clean water (forcing children to drink more sodas and sugary beverages). This led to a lot of engaging public health discussions among our brigade group.

Because of the generous help of the MAA, I was able to truly experience what it is like to practice medicine in rural, low-resource settings. It was a phenomenal way to see the impact that family physicians have in an international setting, especially since I hope to participate in more global health endeavors in the future.