My Pharmacy Rotation – A Medical Mission in Jamaica

 
My name is Kelsey Bayliss. I am a fourth year pharmacy student at the University of Iowa, College of Pharmacy. I am very fortunate for the opportunity to have participated as part of the 2013 medical mission team for the Issa Trust Foundation in Jamaica. I spent close to two weeks in Jamaica as part of my elective pharmacy rotation and it has been the most influential time spent on my journey to become a pharmacist. Not only did it strengthen my love for international healthcare and the pediatric population, but it really introduced me to a love of mission work and helping others that are less fortunate. Truly, it has been a life-changing experience. I was first introduced to the Issa Trust Foundation as a third year pharmacy student. My preceptor, on an experiential pharmacy rotation, was a pharmacist who has been a medical mission trip volunteer in Jamaica for many years. I helped package albendazole tablets for the 2012 mission and after learning about the Issa Trust Foundation and what they do for children in Jamaica, I knew I wanted to become more involved. A year later, I contacted the preceptor asking permission to join her as part of the 2013 medical mission team, and the rest is history. I was so excited to become part of the team and participate in my first mission, and now that it is over, I am even more excited for next year’s mission to be here! The experience I had while on the medical mission is very hard to express in words. I have never felt as empowered and fulfilled as what I did during my time with the children in Jamaica. They do not have the access to proper healthcare and medical resources and it was a very touching experience to be able to help provide that. Being able to counsel a parent on a medication, knowing that you giving them a chance to improve the life of their child is truly life-changing. The patients were always so grateful for our time spent and the resources we gave them. Children were just as grateful when you shared a smile, hug, or gave them a high-five. Just thinking of the time I was able to spend with the children brings a smile to my face. While on the mission, not every moment deserved a smile. Many of the children are in dire need of our help. Many of the children lack a safe and stable home-life and some children were reported to be eating only every other day due to lack of access to food. This is heart-shattering. My husband, Austin, had a little boy ask him if he could go home with us. After Austin sadly told him that he could not, he asked again with a serious, straight-face, “Are you sure I can’t go home with you?”  Hearing this, broke my heart. A request like this, from someone this young, showed us that he was one of those children that lacked a good home-life. Children like this, are the reason my husband and I have a strong desire to continue mission work with the Issa Trust Foundation in Jamaica. I saw examples everyday on how the Issa Trust Foundation has enriched the lives of children in Jamaica. Not only did this mission provide children with medical care that they needed and deserve, but the team was also able to provide eye glasses to those with need as well.  The children were very shy when approached about their new glasses, but after a well-deserved compliment, a heart-warming smile was generally the response the children gave. I will never forget my experience as part of the medical mission trip team in Jamaica. I had the opportunity to help change the lives of close to 900 children in five days on my pharmacy rotation. Keeping everything I have shared in mind, I would highly recommend fellow pharmacy students, health care professionals, or those with a love of children or international healthcare to strongly consider contributing and/or donating their time to the Issa Trust Foundation. I am for certain that I want to continue enriching the lives of children in Jamaica through the Issa Trust Foundation and I cannot wait for next year’s mission to arrive. What an amazing experience!    
1 Comment
  • Kelsey, thank you so much for sharing your experience and feedback. We are always humbled for those who give of their time and love to help make a difference!

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