June 17, 2014
Franklin Pierce University Professor Thomas Bennett and 12 Franklin Pierce students
recently traveled to Ghana on a Medical Mission as part of a larger group with the
Hope for Tomorrow Foundation, which sends doctors and students to developing nations
each year to provide surgeries for young people. The group witnessed firsthand the
delivery of healthcare in the West African country while volunteering their time and
expertise in two hospitals in the city of Elmina. It was a remarkable experience for
the Franklin Pierce students, who represented all four grade levels at the University
and were either Health Sciences or Biology majors with aspirations to become medical
doctors or Physician Assistants.
The 45 students, surgeons, and retired professionals from the group at large had a unique opportunity to experience and participate in healthcare delivery in a developing country. Students and professionals alike were able to scrub in to assist and observe physicians performing surgeries, something that Brad Hibbard, a Franklin Pierce senior, said “is unheard of until the third and usually fourth year of medical school. The doctors that were performing surgeries and consultations were more than happy to share their expertise with us, even allowing us to make our own observations and to ask us if we had a diagnosis based on the information we had from x-rays and interviews. They guided us in the right direction and provided us with a wealth of knowledge that will forever stay with each and every one of us.”
Many of the surgeries that the group experienced were related to burns associated with cooking on open fires, fractures that were not properly set at the time of injury, or hand surgeries to address extra digits. “Our students got to witness giving and caring surgeons who were absolutely spectacular at what they do,” said Dr. Bennett, who served as a medical doctor for 10 years in the U.S. before becoming a professor. “It is important for students to see the world around them – globally.” Hibbard echoed that thought: “I take away from this experience the need for people of all ages to provide voluntary service to those that are less fortunate than ourselves; the need is great throughout the world.”
Dr. Bennett observed, “It was surprising to see how different all aspects of society are in Africa: healthcare, housing, education. It was eye opening – very surprising to see how difficult conditions are – the infrastructure is not there.” The group of Franklin Pierce students found the experience to be “life changing” and expressed a wish that they could do more.
The 4-day service portion of the trip culminated with a 3-day visit to Vatican City where the group was blessed by Pope Francis. Former President Nixon’s grandson Christopher Nixon Cox joined the group during their visit to Vatican City.
Photo caption: Franklin Pierce University Professor Thomas Bennett, MD, and Franklin Pierce student Natasha McCarthy ’14 discuss surgical technique in Ghana during a break.
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