Physician Assistant Students, Faculty Member Return From Mission Trip to Guatemala


Seven Physician Assistant students and PA Department Chair Carrie Beebout traveled to Jalapa, Guatemala, for a week-long medical mission trip in late December and early January.

Students on the trip included Emily Claar, Olivia Kissel, Maddy Kuchta, Rachel Langsdorf, Reegan Miller, Vinny Rajan and Bella Tuttoilmondo.

Thirteen PA students from South College joined the SFU group on the trip.

The trip was coordinated through Certified Medical Educators, an organization founded in 2002 by SFU alumnus Dr. Michael Nowak.

According to Beebout, students performed many tasks under the supervision of licensed physician assistants. These included recording patient histories, performing physical exams, determining diagnosis, and providing medications.

Students also administered injections, flushed ears to eliminate with wax, and assisted patients in selecting appropriate eyeglasses.

“Participating in a mission trip provides students with an opportunity to see the world through a different lens,” said Beebout.

“The patient population that we treat in these remote villages has very little in the way of material wealth, but they want the same things in life that we all do – to be happy and healthy.

“The students gained hands-on experience in the medical field, built their confidence as future clinicians, and broadened their horizons.”

Kutcha said she learned a lot about medicine and patient care throughout the week in Jalapa.

“The trip was an incredible and humbling experience,” said the junior PA major. “Two of the days at the clinic I was on the eyes-and-ears station. I was taken aback by the immediate impact we were able to make.

“I had the opportunity to fit many patients for glasses and it was like they were seeing the world for the first time. Their faces lit up and they beamed with excitement.”

During some down time on the trip, students had to opportunity to hike up an active volcano in Antigua, Guatemala. They toasted marshmallows over hot lava rocks during the hike.

They also learned more about the Guatemalan culture and cuisine.

Beebout will be leading another medical mission trip to Jalapa, Guatemala, in March over Spring Break.