Thanks to the SDMS Foundation and Karen Klimas, MS, RT(R), RDMS, clinical coordinator and assistant professor at Misericordia University, Julie Myers, BS, has a perspective on the impact of sonography and healthcare in general that most of her peers are not likely to possess.
Julie, as a Misericordia senior, accepted Karen’s invitation to join a medical mission team of physicians, cardiologists, nurses, and sonographers to serve in Santiago De Los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, on March 15-18. The Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic lay order that holds international status as a sovereign entity, organized this and other medical mission trips. Karen had traveled with them twice previously.
“I view this trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help others in a way I have never experienced before,” Julie wrote in her application for a 2023 SDMS Foundational International Assistance grant, which she received upon completion of the medical mission.
Julie hoped the trip would develop “her scanning skills, patient care communication abilities, critical thinking, teamwork, and ability to adapt to a new and unique environment, all while ensuring patient comfort and following proper diagnostic medical sonography protocols.”
Karen, who has worked closely with Julie and Kali Foltz, another senior on the mission trip, in their didactic instruction and clinical training, was captivated to witness Julie’s professional growth come alive, in particular, her adaptability to a new situation.
“Dr. Centurion, a cardiologist who spearheaded the mission trip, and two German cardiologists were so welcoming and eager to work with the students,” says Karen. “The students had not been exposed to echocardiography before, but they tried it, and it was really cool to see them interacting with the physicians.
“Julie worked with one of the German cardiologists, and I think she adapted really well. I also think the trip helped her with patient care skills. It showed her a different side of patient care because there was a language barrier and we used interpreters; and she got to work with children, which she really liked. Even in that short time, she really did have to adapt, and she did well,” says Karen.
The team arrived on a Wednesday and spent time unloading medical equipment as well as other supplies they brought with them for the community, such as over-the-counter medications and clothing. Over the next two full days, they saw hundreds of patients and scanned 75. With only one ultrasound machine available, Julie, Kali, and Karen rotated the duties of scanning and recording measurements.
The queue of patients streamed uninterrupted to the clinic, presenting a variety of cases – a few OB/GYN exams, breast and abdominal scans, and studies of various lumps and bumps, plus echos when working with the cardiologists.
"We shut down the machine every time we had to change the transducer. We had no covers or sheets for the patients. Patients may wait for a year for medical services. It was obvious to me there was a need for us to be there," says Julie about her first impressions.
"I would love to do the trip again," she says.
Julie Myers, BS, graduated from Misericordia University in May 2023. Her specialty choice is OB/GYN, and she is also interested in vascular ultrasound. Julie is seeking to start her career in a hospital with a fast-paced clinical rotation.