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Sociology instructor leads Nicaragua study abroad trip addressing health, medicine

Sociology Instructor Daniel Brewster shares candy with Nicaraguan children

While some students travel home for spring break or take much needed vacations, others choose travel to regions of the world on coordinated study abroad opportunities.


Sociology Instructor Daniel Brewster and Candace Griffith, who was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor, led a group of 45 students from the Global Medical and Dental Brigades on a nine-day spring break study abroad trip in rural Nicaragua, serving citizens in this resource reduced region of the world.


In preparation for the trip, the students were required to take Sociology of Health and Medicine, offered by Department of Sociology and Anthropology Instructor Daniel Brewster, meeting weekly to discuss health, medicine, public health, and other topics relevant to the public health situation in Nicaragua.


Upon arrival, students and faculty provided nearly $80,000 of donated medicines and supplies necessary to facilitate the medical and dental clinics in the community of San Jose. Students worked with seven medical professionals to provide medical and dental procedures to 956 patients and assisted in the creation of electronic medical records to help provide consistent future care at Global Brigades clinics.


“Most of my students are future medical professionals so it gives them a glimpse into healthcare that is dissimilar to what they see in American hospitals or on television,” said Brewster. “At the end of every day, I facilitated the reflection where the students and I discussed the happenings of the day including but not limited to experiences, feelings, similarities and differences to Appalachia. The trip afforded cultural experiences that allow for greater understanding of health and medicine from a global perspective.”


In addition to providing clinical services, the students and faculty worked to improve living conditions for three families in the community of San Gabriel. These improvements included building floors and installing septic tanks and sanitation centers. While in this part of the brigade, students worked with the family and local volunteers to complete these projects.


Past groups traveled to Panama and Honduras to provide assistance in medical and dental clinics. Sociology of Health and Medicine is a 2-credit course started in the Spring of 2015. The group is already beginning to plan their next Brigade with options of Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and Ghana.