As the poorest Western Hemisphere country, Haiti has a long history of health disparity including elevated rates of hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. In the summer of 2012, a four-week knowledge and skills based course, including a one-week medical mission, was developed to meet the need for medical care in Haiti, and to provide an interprofessional, service-learning environment to enhance students’ cultural competence. A nonprofit volunteer organization that connects healthcare people with a community in need assisted in developing the mission trip. Background on the culture of Haiti, medical education, and development of nutrition education materials were incorporated into the course. Students participated in classroom activities, assisted with development of nutrition education materials, and maintained a reflective journal during the mission trip. Basic nutrition education, nutrition assessment and evaluation, and breastfeeding instruction were provided to Haitian patients. Additionally, students and faculty interacted with each member of the healthcare team; facilitating a greater understanding of an interprofessional approach to medical care. Incorporating a medical mission trip into dietetics education provides an opportunity to increase cultural competence of faculty and students while providing another outlet for students to gain hands-on experience. Interprofessional service-learning further enhances the educational experience and should be considered as a worthwhile educational technique. Programs looking to incorporate such a mission trip into their curriculum can follow a similar scheme of course development.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/joanne-christaldi/1/