GPSA works in the remote village of Williamson, West Virginia, close to the Kentucky border. Williamson is a town of about 3000 inhabitants deep in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, USA. These rugged inhabitants have been devastated by natural disasters and economic hardship. Only recently has the city been protected by a floodwall in response to deadly flooding along the Tug Fork River in 1977 and again in 1984. The local economy is largely fueled by coal mining, an industry in rapid decline. The decline is so severe that it recently brought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the city to discuss the problems of poverty and healthcare in this community. Despite their economic troubles, the local people are kind and welcoming hosts.
In Williamson we will be working with local healthcare professionals to provide adult, adolescent, and pediatric aid. The primary patients are the uninsured and those covered by government poverty programs. Activities can include educational programming with local schools, organizing health fairs and working at the local clinic.
For their clinical service, participants are divided into teams led by trained GPSA staff. Students learn to facilitate several medical interventions and screenings (measuring infant height and weight, measuring blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and complete an important introductory cultural training.
Participants not only learn more about healthcare, but they also get to know a new and different culture, perhaps making some lifelong friends in the process. Participants will be making a difference and starting their medical careers now!