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SLU Physician Assistant Students Travel to El Salvador to Serve Those in Need

Saint Louis University (SLU) Physician Assistant (PA) students Megan Favia, Kelly Feigh and Taylor Reinhardt traveled to Santiago, El Salvador with Helping Hands Medical Missions in early November to help serve the health care needs to the impoverished community and to build up both the locals and the participants from the mission spiritually. The students were invited by Peter Danis, MD, who is both a family physician at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center and a SLU faculty member in the Family Medicine Residency.

PA Students in El Salvador

SLU PA students Taylor Reinhardt (middle), Megan Favia (second from right) and Kelly Feigh (right) on a medical mission trip in El Salvador.

The Santiago region has suffered many hardships, including civil war, earthquakes, a hurricane and flooding, which have left many of its people in great need. Physicians, nurses, Medical School students and PA students worked alongside Medical School students from El Salvador, who also served as translators when needed, to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people through primary care. During the trip, each physician would see approximately 75 patients each day.

When the opportunity for the mission trip to El Salvador presented itself, Favia did not hesitate to seize it.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to live out the SLU and SLU PA Program missions to become a competent PA and be dedicated to the service of humanity,” Favia said. “Nearing the end of my time in the PA program, I knew this experience would allow me to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the past few years to care for the entire person, mind, body and soul despite unique cultural and socioeconomic circumstances.”

There were certainly differences between the way medicine was practiced in this region of El Salvador and in the United States. One of those differences, however, became one of Favia’s favorite parts of the experience: singing to the patients.

“Due to minimal surgical supplies and equipment, patients remain awake during most procedures,” Favia said. “During every surgery, the scrub nurse had a tradition of singing a song and encouraging the rest of the team and the patient to join. It was a little bizarre, but something I will never forget!”

Megan Favia in El Salvador Medical Center

SLU PA student Megan Favia (second from right) at the medical clinic in El Salvador.

Many of the patients that the students interacted with will need ongoing medical care, which can be hard to find in areas such as this. Just as Helping Hands Medical Missions will return to El Salvador, the PA students said they looked forward to the opportunity to serve in a similar fashion in the future and help those in need.

Learn more about SLU’s Physician Assistant Program.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.