Bay Area Podiatry Students Provide Free Foot Care at California's Border Town

Samuel Merritt University

Media Relations Contact:

Elizabeth Valente, 510.725.7980


April 5, 2011

Bay Area Podiatry Students Provide Free Foot Care at California's Border Town

(OAKLAND, Calif., April 5, 2011)  Sunscreen, check.  Camera and sunglasses, check.  Scalpels, gloves and reference books, check. 

WHAT:  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) and School of Nursing, two schools within Samuel Merritt University (SMU) based in Oakland, California, packing diagnostic and medical instruments will help provide foot care to uninsured residents of San Ysidro, a community in San Diego County.  San Ysidro is home to the world's busiest border crossing, where U.S. Interstate 5 crosses into Mexico at Tijuana.

WHY:  "We wanted to focus on migrant population coming from border towns, because research shows those are places where healthcare is an issue," says Tim Dutra, DPM, CSPM assistant professor.

This is the third medical mission to San Ysidro that podiatry students from the University have spent their Spring Break at Centro Romero Clinica off of W. Hall Avenue, but the first time SMU nursing students in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program have joined the group.

"The University's mission is to educate students to transform the experience of care in diverse communities and this trip is a great example of it," says Peter Barbosa , PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology and Director of Research.  "Exposing students from different academic disciplines to challenging healthcare situations at this time of their training plants the seed for future mission trips."

WHO:  The group is prepared to see patients with diabetic neuropathic problems and other pathologies.  For the podiatry students in the Doctoral of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program their aim is to educate the community about the signs and symptoms of diabetes and the importance of maintaining proper foot care.  For the FNP students, they will offer basic health screenings for blood pressure, vision and depression; they also strive to educate uninsured workers about preventing injuries and chronic conditions such as heart and skin diseases.  All of the students also administer referrals for specialized medical appointments and pass out health education materials.

"Comprehensive foot care programs like ours can help reduce amputation," says Dr. Barbosa.  "If we can educate a few people on how to care for themselves they in turn can teach others, and that's a step in the right direction."

HOW:  According to the center's staff, patients who come for the free health screening are bilingual in Spanish and an additional indigenous language, such as the Mayan language K'iche'.  That's not a problem for DPM students Jeremy Cook and Olivia Stransky.  They are both fluent in Spanish and believe that two-way communication is the key to better care.

"When they learn that I do speak Spanish, you see a definite relief and opening up of their comfort level," said Stransky. "It benefits not only the patients who receive treatment, but also providers like myself who are no longer limited in the people they can help."

Out of 20.8 million people in the U.S., seven percent have diabetes and more than six million go undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The three-day trip was funded in part by the Scott Beamer Community Service grant, student fundraisers, and by the Romero Center for Border Ministries.  Community service is a long-standing tradition at the University. 



April 7, 2011,  Thursday at 12pm-6pm

April 8, 2011,  Friday at 10am-6pm

April 9, 2011,  Saturday at 9am-12pm


Centro Romero, 173 W. Hall Avenue, San Ysidro, CA 92173  (619)-428-8700

Samuel Merritt University, located in Oakland, California, has been educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities since 1909.   Nearly 1,400 students are enrolled at SMU, with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo.   The University offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, and physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in nursing, physical therapy and podiatric medicine.   For more information visit

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