July 03, 2012
Jennifer Hasamear

SLU Residents Chosen for Medical Mission Trips

Five Receive Medicine Abroad Scholarships This Year

ST. LOUIS – Five pediatric and combined medicine/pediatric residents were recently awarded the Dr. Phillip A. Riley, Jr. and Mrs. Joane Riley Endowed Medicine Abroad Program (MAP) Scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Tim Rice, M.D., director of SLU’s medicine abroad program

The residents are: Mwela Njabi Asombang, M.D., Angela Delecaris, M.D., Jonathan Rodrigues, M.D., Eric Strodtman, M.D., and Paul Tuttle, M.D. Each of the residents will go on a one-month medical mission trip to a country of their choice.

This year, residents will travel to Botswana, Belize, and Congo. The scholarship award covers their salary while away along with their travel and related expenses. The program provides residents with an opportunity to give back of themselves as well as be engaged in an excellent learning experience, according to Timothy Rice, M.D., director of the medicine abroad program.

“The residents will be a benefit to the medical system, the patients and the broader communities where they will serve,” Rice said. “They will also receive great benefits from working and living in another culture. We look forward to working with these wonderful residents to finalize their plans and encouraging them in this personal and professional challenge.”

Over the last six years, the program has awarded 30 scholarships. The department of pediatrics contributes significantly to the medicine abroad program to ensure that as many residents as possible can participate. Because of the department's contribution, this year, every applying resident received funding.

In December 2007, Dr. and Mrs. Riley made a donation to endow the program. Dr. Riley, who is a retired surgeon and Saint Louis University School of Medicine alumni, had participated in medical mission trips during his career and wanted to share that experience with others. Several award recipients hope to gain a better insight on providing a better standard of care through the experience of practicing medicine in countries with lower resources.

“I have always been interested in different lands and cultures,” said Rodrigues, who will travel to Belize to practice at the Hillside Clinic. “This program will be a good opportunity for me to experience the culture of another country. This experience can help deepen my adaptability, humility and empathy with human suffering.”

For Delecaris, she hopes this experience will provide her with different ways of practicing medicine, which she said is important for all physicians at some point in their careers.

“Overall, I hope the experience will make a change for the better in the way I care for patients,” said Delecaris, who still has to choose her destination. In addition to seeing patients, the residents also work on broader healthcare issues afflicting the community and help local clinicians modernize their practices. Upon return, the residents also give a talk for the department to share their experiences and what they learned.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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