(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — For 29 medical students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, the upcoming Spring Break means much more than rest and relaxation. These members of the College’s Christian Medical Association have organized a five-day medical mission trip to Morelos, Mexico, to provide medical care to local residents.

The trip, now in its ninth year, is the major annual outreach project for the HSC College of Medicine’s chapter of the Christian Medical Association. More than 70 people, including medical students, college faculty, local physicians, translators and pre-med undergraduate students, will travel to Morelos, located south of Piedras Negras, Mexico, and across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.

The group will leave for Mexico on Saturday, March 11 and return Wednesday, March 15.

The 29 students plan to set up five sites in Morelos and nearby Allende and will offer screening, medical care, medication and health education to residents. Each clinic will have a triage area, exam rooms and makeshift pharmacy. Teams of first- and second-year medical students will take patient histories and conduct evaluations, then present to physicians on-site to determine the best course of action for each individual.

Second-year students and trip organizers Matt Brown and Vivian Lichaa say the trip gives medical students an opportunity to see firsthand the impact they can make as physicians.

“There is a lack of access to health care in the areas we will be visiting,” Brown said. “Every time we visit, we are often the only medical care these people receive all year. We see a lot of colds and allergies, but also hypertension and diabetes. Because we can’t be there on a regular basis, we do the best we can to treat people, but we also educate them on how to take care of themselves.”

The group will stay at a Morelos church and are prepared to cook for themselves and sleep on air mattresses. But the students do not mind, Lichaa said, because the chance to make a difference in the lives of people, both physically and spiritually, is worth it.

In preparing for the six- to seven-hour drive from College Station to Morelos, the group rented five vans to hold all the people, supplies and luggage they will need. Brown and Lichaa said fund-raising efforts have been highly successful and even surpassed expectations.

“We did blood pressure screenings at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago, and it was great to see the support from the community,” Brown said. “We raised $750 just from that event, so it will cover the cost of the medications we’ll take with us. We have also received support from local churches and physicians, friends and family, and our classmates. It’s been really neat to see the money coming in because now we don’t have to worry about expenses.”

Founded in 1977, the College of Medicine at The Texas A&M Health Science Center is committed to educating, training and equipping physicians who are compassionate about their patients and dedicated to the communities in which they serve. Located on the Texas A&M University campus and at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, the College utilizes approximately 700 basic scientists and clinicians to instruct students during the course of their medical education. Its primary clinical affiliate, Scott & White, is ranked as one of the top 15 teaching hospitals in the nation.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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