The national organization of Alpha Omega Alpha recognized School of Medicine student Kate Pearson’s research on Honduran health care in its recent online publication. Pearson, now a third-year medical student, was awarded the 2011 Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship and used the funding to investigate the barriers to providing medical care to different parts of Honduras.
Pearson’s research focused on three different Honduran communities. Though they are near each other, one of the communities is suburban, and the other two are rural. All three locations are aided by the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort (HOMBRE), a yearly medical mission trip organized by first-year School of Medicine students.
After a year of research, Pearson found a heavy burden for the remote communities in trying to access healthcare. Challenges include cost, facility overcrowding, transportation and distance to the clinic. In January 2012, her findings were presented to the local government in Yoro, Honduras.
“I was both excited and nervous to have the findings presented, knowing that it could permanently shape future trip planning,” Pearson said. “I was confident in our findings, though, and felt very empowered that the work has allowed us to tailor the mission to provide care to the most needy communities.”
In addition to sharing the results with the Honduran people, Pearson was first-author on a manuscript of her work published in the International Journal of Family Medicine. She now has completed the research fellowship, but remains focused on finding ways to provide excellent patient care as she pursues her career in medicine.
“The experience has continued to motivate me both in pursuing research and in my medical education. It continues to remind me how valuable a medical education is — and how a small community and a small team of thoughtful health professionals can come together to make powerful change.”