Peter Wikoff, a BME sophomore, received an Honors Enrichment Award to fund his MEDLIFE trip to Peru in January 2014. MEDLIFE’s goal is alleviating healthcare inequality in the poorer parts of the world by delivering medical aid, education, and development work. They are supported by college-age volunteers who help them set up and man clinics in Tanzania, India, and various places in South America for one or two weeks. These volunteers help the local doctors and dentists, and shadow them to learn about their professions.
Peter spent 10 days near Cuzco, Peru. Every morning the MEDLIFE group would head out at 6 in the morning by bus to nearby remote rural regions that lacked running water where they would set up medical stations in predetermined buildings or tents. Patients would line up outside for treatment. Volunteers would be posted at the triage station to take the patients’ vitals (blood pressure, BMI…), and would shadow the doctors, dentists, or Ob-Gyns. They would also distribute prescribed medication at the pharmacy station, and teach kids how to properly brush their teeth at the toothbrushing station. During their time in the clinics, Peter’s group treated about 1001 patients. They also spent some time at an orphanage in Cuzco city helping with the construction of an auditorium. Volunteers were given the afternoons and weekends to explore the city, and on the last Saturday, Peter had a chance to hike up the mountain and visit the Machu Picchu ruins.
Peter greatly enjoyed his trip. “It is very important to me that people aspiring to join the medical field have real-world experience, and this trip provided that experience, as well as broadened my perspective of international healthcare conditions in countries less fortunate than mine. It also gave me the chance to explore a new country, experience its culture, and see the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu.”
So far, Peter interests in biomedical engineering lie in technologies such as artificial joints and artificial organs and in the pathology of disease and its prevention. After graduation, he plans to pursue further education, attending either medical school or grad school.