Postcard from Abroad: Brazil
By Rodney Mutter, D.C.
2001, I participated in Palmer’s Clinic Abroad Program (CAP) trip to
Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. I’ll never forget the moment when I arrived at
the airport in Manaus. The air was so heavy and humid, yet so healthy and with such a distinct smell. I immediately felt at home.
next 12 days were inspiring. The experience touched me on so many
levels. The people of Brazil have a warmth that I haven’t experienced
anywhere else in the world.
The most amazing part of the
clinical experience was the ability to offer my recent knowledge and
technique skills to others without expecting anything in return. Clinic
Abroad offers a very unique experience in that everything has been
organized, all of the responsibilities have been handled, and you can
truly just give of everything that you have inside of you. It’s a
sensation that I haven’t been able to duplicate day to day in my
practice because there are always administrative issues in practice.
returned to Brazil in July 2001 for my internship, and I never left.
After graduation, I opened up my practice in Rio Grande do Sul in
southern Brazil and have had the opportunity to go back to the Amazon as
extension faculty on six different occasions. Going back as faculty was
and is even more amazing, as I’m able to communicate now with the
patients and help the students through the same insecurities that I
recently had experienced.
In January 2005, I married my wife,
Carin, here in Brazil. In December of that same year, we were blessed
with our first child, Guilherme. I truly owe much gratitude to the CAP
of Palmer College. I have such an amazing life and have grown so much.
I encourage everyone to participate in this program—students, faculty and extension faculty—as it is truly life-changing.
Wishing you all health and happiness,
Rodney Mutter, D.C.
Postcard from Abroad: Madagascar
I was a participant in the Clinic Abroad
Program trip to Madagascar in February 2007. Let me start by saying that
this trip was by far the best experience of my life. Words really
cannot do the experience justice, but I will try.
first impressions upon arrival in Antsiranana, Madagascar, were of the
beauty and extreme poverty. I have never seen so many vibrant shades of
green! We were there during their summer, so the countryside was
absolutely breath-taking (the beaches were absolutely beautiful as
well). As we were taking in the beautiful sights, we were also faced
with just how poor the city is as well. To call their homes “shacks”
would make them sound luxurious. Some of their homes only had a “roof”
held up by what looked like sticks. They looked as if any bad weather
would knock them down instantly.
Speaking of bad weather, our
Clinic Abroad trip took place during cyclone season, so there was a lot
of rain and flooded roads. Many may think that rain would ruin the
experience on a trip like this. For me, it made the experience even more
touching and humbling. I was constantly thinking of the natives’ meager
living situations and how the severe rain and winds were affecting
them. I thought of the mud and flooded roads that they had to walk
through on a daily basis. I thought of the flooding of their homes,
because I knew their roofs were not going to keep it away. I imagined
the mud they must have in their homes. I couldn’t help but think of the
hundreds of thousands of dollars Americans spend on their homes and how
they are always complaining about them. I thought of how many American
families own more than one car as I watched women walking with babies
strapped to their backs and with a tubs of food on their heads with no
destination in near sight. I was constantly reminded of how much we
Americans take for granted and how very lucky we are to have food, water
The Malagasy* people were some of the most kind
and appreciative people I think I will ever meet. Each one of us
(students and doctors) was greeted with a smile by everyone we were in
contact with. The clinical experience was also incredible. I felt myself
becoming a better adjuster even by the end of the first adjusting day. I
forced myself to use techniques that I was less comfortable with and
gained more and more confidence with them as the week went on. The
lessons I learned from the faculty were also priceless. Dr. [David]
Hannah asked us to “diagnose beyond just the subluxation,” and that has
helped me take better patient notes and become a better intern today.
had the opportunity to adjust people from a few months old to more than
90 years old, which was definitely something new for me. I got over my
fear of adjusting the elderly and of adjusting people with potential
lumbar disc herniations.
There were definitely some hard moments
to get through in the clinic. It was extremely difficult to tell
patients that there really wasn’t anything that we could do for them. It
was even more difficult to tell them that there were no resources in
their country to help them further. Some of our encounters with patients
were truly heartbreaking, but we did as much for them as we could.
were also happy moments in the clinic, though. It was an incredible
feeling to have someone say that a headache went away or that radiating
leg pain was gone after an adjustment. Overall, after each patient
encounter, I felt like I had made some difference in their lives and
that what I had done for them was appreciated. To say that each day was
an emotional rollercoaster is an under statement.
What I have
taken home from this experience is to always put things in perspective.
No matter how bad things seem to be for you, there is always someone
worse off than you out there somewhere. I also appreciate every blessing
in my life much more than I think I did prior to the trip—and consider
myself privileged to have my health, food, shelter, family, friends and
education. I know this experience will continue to influence my thinking
years down the road.
I am definitely much more confident in my
adjusting and clinical skills now, too. I know it’s not just my own
observation, because my patients and staff doctors have commented on it
as well. I also came back with 20 new friends without whom the
experience would not have been the same. This experience was priceless.
We had exceptional staff doctors with us and an incredible group of
students, and I will always remember this experience. I hope to return
to Madagascar one day as a field doctor and continue to serve the
*When the French granted Madagascar’s independence in 1958, “the locals renamed their nation the Malagasy Republic.” (http://www.air-mad.com/)
Postcard from Abroad: Manaus
Below is an unedited letter from a
Brazilian chiropractor thanking Palmer College for bringing the Clinic
Abroad Program to his part of the world.
Palmer Students’ soon Chiropractors,
to Manaus! I hope everyone is enjoying, being treated very well, and
having a great impression of here. I’m Dr. Shuster. I graduated in Rio
Grande do Sul 2006, and I have been living in Manaus for 9 months. I was
like you guys before and I’m sure that in any part around the world is
the same thought. You are studying the last period and I know everyone
is making many expectations about your future. You long for, you dream
with, you still have some doubts, but at the same time have an amazing
courage. The real world is approaching and it is not the same like when
we are at the college, because everything we do, we are protected by
Professors there. Even though that each one of you would like to adjust
by yourself. But all this process is needed. I confess when I was a
Chiropractor Student I was so happy in every event like that, because we
meet knew people, different places, different cultures, parties and
Here in Manaus you will have an amazing experience, unique.
Notice everything that is going on around you, specially your patients.
Observe that even not speaking your language they are charismatic,
captivating. Many of them are humble and will use the best cloth and
will use the best smell. All that for you to show how important you are
for them. I bet You will be in their prayer for a long time, because
they really care the way you treat them. An adjustment means a lot for
them. People who spent years with pain, keep their faces until the end
of the treatment, because later you will remember the relief they will
feel when the adjustment it’s done. Hug them, feel this human spirit,
I’m sure you will never forget this experience.
In our clinic,
before the amazing work Dr. James have done for 6 years, now working Dr.
Silva, me and Dr. João Paulo we already have treated more than 17.000
people. Also we can not forget Dr.Garcia who is in this work too. You
are in a country that fights for the regularity of our Profession. In
Brazil there are only 300
Chiropractors graduated, two Universities
working since 2000, with a direct participation of Dr. Hannah in our
Professors’ Group. The course is regulated, but not the profession. So
that’s why there are many who use Chiropractic without graduation. But
we expect that soon this profession, we love so much will be strong in
Do not forget that you are in the city who most
respect and cares about Chiropractic in all Brazil, thanks to Dr. James
work for all these years now ours. So, live each minute, take all your
doubts and anything you need we are here to help. Thanks again and God