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Piedmont Healthcare helps high school students prep for Honduras mission trip

Piedmont Healthcare helps local high school students prepare for medical careers and improve public health in Honduras

By Amanda Bartlett

Piedmont Healthcare recently helped local high school students on a humanitarian mission trip to Honduras by providing medical supplies, funding and also mentoring opportunities, through a partnership with a new non-profit organization called MDJunior, created for those interested in pursuing healthcare careers.

The brainchild of Milton High School student Shaun Verma, a 17-year-old resident of Milton, Ga., MDJunior is a student-run leadership society that pairs students interested in healthcare careers with mentors who guide them.

“I wanted to inspire selfless service through mentorship by focusing on the noble aspects of the medical profession,” Verma said.

“Since nearly one in three Georgia students fail to finish high school, we wanted to treat this disengagement by encouraging students to reach their full potential. I hope it will inspire others to go into medicine. The organization focuses on underserved communities both locally and globally.”

The group of MDJunior students set up field clinics in rural communities of El Campamento and Flur Azul, Honduras with supplies provided by Piedmont, including commonly needed medications and supplies such as antibiotics, hand sanitizer, gauze, tubing and surgical provisions.

The students also aided with preventative public health projects, such as building latrines and bathing areas, installing a stove with a chimney and pouring concrete in homes where there had previously been only dirt floors.

Piedmont Neonatologist Deepa Ranganathan, M.D., who has been a huge advocate for the project and has served as Verma’s mentor for years, was proud to see the MDJunior group complete its first global medical-mentor mission trip and looks forward to helping the students continue to give back.

“I’m passionate about MDJunior because it has the potential to give back more than we gave, by inspiring students to love and pursue medicine as a career,” Ranganathan said.

“The students put so much work into this trip, from collaborating with government and private entities in Honduras to securing the necessary medical supplies and, of course, giving up their spare time to complete the mission. I’m confident these students will make great contributions to the medical field one day.”

Consulate General of Honduras Emelisa Callejas Romero said she applauds the group in their pursuit to create a more ethical, sustainable model of global health and would like to see the community get involved with MDJunior’s efforts.

Ranganathan said the recent trip was an eye-opening experience for the students, who were visibly impacted by the cultural and economic disparities between the two countries.

Adrian Armogan, a 17-year-old recent graduate from Collins High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., volunteered on the trip with the assistance of Piedmont.

“I never thought I would be putting a floor in someone’s house. Although it was a lot of hard work, the most fulfilling part was seeing how much hope it gave the family and the community as a whole,” Armogan said. “In the U.S., kids my age always want more and it’s never enough; but after I went to Honduras, I realized how grateful we should be for what we have.”

Armogan is on a pre-pharmacy track with Georgia Southern University and worked in the mission’s drug dispensary. He is also working on opening a chapter of MDJunior at Georgia Southern and has been chosen to serve as an MDJunior 2012 Global Fellow on future medical missions.

The MDJunior team was lauded for their humanitarian approach when presenting this project at two Global Public Health Conferences in Nebraska and Philadelphia.

MDJunior activities revolve around three pillars of success: knowledge, skills and attitude. Between mission trips, members job shadow, enjoy lectures from healthcare professionals who visit their chapter meetings and volunteer at humanitarian events, as they did for Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s NICU reunion and Men’s Health Expo.

-Piedmont Healthcare contributed this report

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