Sunscreen, check. Camera and sunglasses, check. Scalpels, gloves and reference books, check. The last items may seem peculiar for a spring break vacation, but for a small group of students from the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM), Samuel Merritt University (SMU), packing diagnostic and medical instruments will help provide foot care to uninsured residents of San Ysidro, a community in San Diego County. The area is home to the world's busiest border crossing, where U.S. Interstate 5 crosses into Mexico at Tijuana.
"We wanted to focus on migrant population coming from border towns, because research shows those are places where healthcare is an issue," says James Johnston, a fourth-year podiatry student. This is the second medical mission for SMU students led by Peter Barbosa , PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology and Director of Research. Last year, he took five students from the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program to New Orleans where they provided a week of free clinical service in the city's Lower 9th Ward Health-Clinic.
"We gave a lot of care, boosted the moral of an under-served community, and educated diabetic patients on the importance of good foot health and the risks associated with diabetes," says Jeremy Evans, a second year DPM student. "We hope to get across the border next year and feel that this trip was a great preparation in getting across where there is a greater need for our care."