Empowering Local Leaders

The inaugural Université Lumière Interprofessional Student Elective initiative kicked off in February 2018 during the fourteenth EMAS Canada (Hand in Hand with Haiti) trip to Haiti.

Planning had been underway for a year before the team arrived in Port-au-Prince to offer six medical students and six nursing students from Université Lumière the opportunity to participate in a hands-on student elective.

Two members of the EMAS Team arrived one week ahead of the rest of the team to provide orientation teaching sessions to these local health care students to ensure that they were prepared to set up and manage the mobile clinic on the first clinic day. The students attended 10 full clinic days under the mentorship of Dr Plourde, Dr Marion and Dr More.

Teaching Haitian Students how to administer mobile clinics, 2018.

All students passed their elective and were presented with a University of Manitoba certificate.

“And the Haitian students really impressed me. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of their knowledge and skills when I met them. I soon realized they were on par with any Canadian student at their level of training. Their enthusiasm, work ethic, and willingness to learn was quite remarkable.” said Dr. More MD CCFP. “The students said to me over and over how they felt this elective would help them in their further training by giving them hands-on clinical work and instruction that they otherwise had not yet had in their training. It was my privilege was to see these young men and women grow over the weeks we worked together.  I am proud to call them colleagues in the medical profession and would serve with them anytime, in a moment’s notice.”

Dr Marion MD CCFP added, “I have found that working alongside Haitian medical and nursing students was truly rewarding. This was not only a learning experience for the students, but was also a learning experience for us; the mentors: learning about the Haitian medical system, the Haitian culture, and the values they hold of friendship, community and family. I was truly blown away by how 12 students, who did not all know each other prior to the elective, were able to grow this much together and form such tight knit bonds after just three weeks. How they were able to form a community and support each other through the challenges they met throughout the three weeks. After teaching this wonderful group of students and working alongside them, I can truly say that we were able to work hand in hand with our Haitian friends, whom I feel I can now also call family.”

The Deans of the faculty of Health Sciences at Université Lumière hosted a celebratory breakfast on the morning of the EMAS team’s departure where awards of excellence were presented to the EMAS Team and where further planning was initiated for the continuation of mobile primary care interprofessional electives in the future. In investing in these students, we are bringing hope to this disadvantaged community that will last for generations to come.