April 20, 2016
We had just come back from touring the clinic in a tiny Zambian village where very sick children were fighting for every breath. We had walked through the crowded town market where clouds of flies buzzed around the produce and fish. The roads were dusty and rugged. The sun was hot and unforgiving. As I sat down to talk with the doctor, she paused to look up on the roof of her small, dingy clinic to look for the boomslangs (a large venomous snake) that she said hung out there. She then proceeded to tell me about the cobras in her yard and worst of all, the children in the clinic who never make it.
I asked her why she did what she did. Why on earth had she chosen this place to do her work instead of some clean, modern hospital in the United States? Why wasn’t she taking care of colds and flu instead of malaria, malnutrition and epilepsy in the middle of nowhere? She was a bit taken aback, smiled and said, “Because this is what I’m supposed to do.” Yep. That seems to be the Spartan way.
"This is what I’m supposed to do." Every single day all across the globe, you’ll find other Spartans saying exactly the same thing. With little thought to their own comfort or the status quo, they’re giving up the easy way and taking the hard road. They sacrifice plenty and ask little in return. They work tirelessly to help and to heal. They build and they fix. They teach and they learn. They never stop trying to repair wrongs and find new rights. They are Spartans and this is what they’re supposed to do.
Every year students and doctors from MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine leave the luxury of home to travel down the Amazon River on a mobile clinic boat, treating patients who need medical care and also learn about tropical diseases. And because it’s what they’re supposed to do, they’re always chasing long-term solutions to make the world a healthier place. Check out the video MSUTODAY FEATURE: Healing on the Amazon, to experience their trip with them and learn about project.
Joe Gorz is an assistant professor of family and community medicine and one of the faculty members who was on the trip. While a student at MSU, he founded the primary care-based Peru Medical Elective and helped found the MSU’s chapter of DOCARE, a medical outreach organization dedicated to providing much-needed healthcare to indigent and isolated people in remote areas around the world. He says through the MSU trips, they have treated more than 12,000 patients and trained more than 231 medical students. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Finding a calling in the Amazon Basin, to learn more about his work.
Sean Morris is second-year MSUCOM student who has already figured out what he’s supposed to do. He recently traveled to Guatemala as part of another service elective to offer care to some of the world’s poorest people. He says the experience gave all of the students ambitions to continue medical missions throughout their future careers. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Small country, big impact, to learn more about this impressive future doc.
Not all Spartans are doctors or have the opportunity to travel to far-flung places. I get that. But every Spartan can make a difference. Last Saturday was the Spartans Will. Power: A global day of service. Spartans all over the globe were asked to get up, roll up their sleeves and pitch in. MSU students, staff and alumni did big and small tasks – all to make a positive change in the world. We’re Spartans, it’s what we’re supposed to do. But there’s no need to wait for a special day. Whatever your talents, whatever your skills, you can make the world a better place. You’re a Spartan. Get out there. Make a difference. It’s what you’re supposed to do. Spartans Will.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz
Photo of COM student treating a patient on the Amazon by Kurt Stepntiz