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Making a world of difference

Making a world of difference

Palmer’s Clinic Abroad Program brings chiropractic care to those in need
Winter/Spring 2008


Clinic Abroad offers Palmer students, faculty and alumni the trip of a lifetime

Since Palmer’s Clinic Abroad Program began providing free chiropractic care to underprivileged people around the world, its two-week trips have had a lasting impact—on the people receiving the care and those providing it.
“On the fourth day of seeing patients, one of the patients I had cared for the first day came back and told me that she had waited over six hours just to see me,” said a Palmer student who went on a 2004 Clinic Abroad trip to India. “At that moment, I realized the impact that our group was having on the community.”


Serving the underserved since 1994

The inspiration for Clinic Abroad came from two mission trips that took place more than a decade ago. In 1994, Moin Ansari, Ph.D., a professor on the Davenport Campus, took a group of students to India. He was followed in 1995, by Garry Krakos, D.C., Davenport ’79, who did mission work of his own in Haiti with then-student Leon Taylor—now Dr. Taylor, Davenport ’95—and a team of M.D.s and nurses.

Today, Palmer’s Clinic Abroad Program sponsors 12 to 15 trips a year to developing countries in which Palmer senior-level students, faculty and alumni deliver chiropractic care. Since Clinic Abroad began, other chiropractic colleges have developed similar programs.

“It provides students with an intense clinical experience in which they see many patients with a wide variety of conditions and have an opportunity to apply what they’ve been learning in the classroom and in the clinic,” said Julie Schrad, M.S., D.C., Davenport ’85. Dr. Schrad oversees the Clinic Abroad Program as associate dean of Clinical Education.

When students aren’t caring for patients, they’re getting to know more about the countries they’re visiting.

“Typically there are five to eight clinic days, interspersed with free time, cultural activities, sightseeing and travel days,” said Coordinator of the Clinic Abroad Program Lori Curry-Whitcomb, R.N., M.S. “There are also roundtable chiropractic discussions, clinic debriefings, moments of extreme joy, exhaustion and emotion too grand to describe. Somewhere in the process a student transforms into a doctor of chiropractic.”

Many students also gain new perspectives on their own standard of living as compared to those in other parts of the world.

“Just seeing the people in poverty on the streets was very intensely overwhelming for me,” said a student who took part in the June 2006 trip to India. “I actually had to turn my head away a few times because it was too much. ... You will never hear me complain about Davenport ever again.”

Clinic Abroad students also help the communities they serve by donating money and goods to local schools, orphanages and other groups in need of assistance.

Mapping out a Clinic Abroad trip

A primary factor for choosing a Clinic Abroad trip location is that it offers little in the way of health care to its residents. Then, in order for a location to be eligible for a visit, there must be someone in place at that location to take care of ground preparations before the group arrives.

Former Davenport Campus faculty member Jim Fallon, D.C., Davenport ’84, with Lori Curry-Whitcomb, in the village of Capao, Brazil, where Clinic Abroad provided care in October 2004.
Dr. Jim Fallon and Lori Curry-Whitcomb on dirt road

“Many times a student or patient will have a connection to a country and contact the Clinic Abroad Office,” said Ms. Curry- Whitcomb. Brazil, for example, has been visited the most of any country because of the large number of Clinic Abroad contacts there.

Multiple trips have been made to Fiji, India, Madagascar, Morocco, Vietnam and the Caribbean island of Bequia in the St. Vincent Grenadines. Even Native American Indian reservations have been visited. The program avoids, however, any locations considered unsafe by the U.S. State Department.

Following their return home, students are asked to write a report about their experience, including its most memorable moments.

After a 2004 Clinic Abroad trip to Morocco, a student wrote, “I made amazing friends, people from Palmer who I had passed in the hall a million times but never knew who they were, and people from Morocco who were awesome and invited me back to visit them. The patients touched my heart in such a way that I didn’t want to leave.”

Planting the seed of chiropractic

“While we take these short-term trips to enhance student clinical education and bring chiropractic care to people in need,” said Dr. Schrad, “the bigger idea of the program is to ‘plant the seed’ of chiropractic in countries that have no chiropractic. We’ve had a patient from Nepal and a patient from Fiji become so interested in chiropractic after receiving care from our group that they’ve become Palmer students.”

Choose your program