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FIMRC's First-Ever Virtual Chapter Retreat

blog fimrc chapters graduate student high school student undergraduate student virtual programs virtual volunteer Dec 17, 2020

FIMRC Hosted Our First-Ever Virtual Chapter Retreat Last Week, And What An Inspiring Jam-Packed Four Days It Was!

Chapter members from across the country joined us for the retreat. Participants varied from the president of a Chapter to general body members, from seniors at Lafayette College, a small college in Pennsylvania, to sophomores at the University of Southern California. From pre-med students and public health majors, the Virtual Chapter Retreat had something for everyone. Students raved about the variety of sessions and how meaningful and engaging they were. Alexandra from Temple University in Philadelphia said, “I learned so much about global health, what it means to be an advocate for others, and how to be more humbly and culturally competent.” Read on to hear about what the Virtual Chapter Retreat entailed!

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Site Overview Led By Site Staff

After a warm welcome from FIMRC’s CEO, Meredith Welsh, participants dove right into learning about program operations at various FIMRC project sites. Participants heard directly from site staff like Field Operations Manager (FOM) at Project Alajuelita, Tatiana Blanco, and got to learn valuable lessons from their expertise in the field. Chapter members then had the unique experience of hearing from each FOM from each FIMRC project site where they discussed how each site has been responding to COVID-19 and adapting program operations in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Student’s insightful questions to FOMs made for a great discussion!

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Volunteer Project Development in Small Cohorts

A favorite of the participants was the volunteer projects they were able to work on with other participants. The volunteer projects were projects proposed by the site staff as projects that would directly benefit the community. Participants worked closely with site staff throughout the week to develop their project and presented the projects and the impact they would have on the group on the last day. Projects included creating a brochure for young girls at Project Site Bududa, Uganda on the proper use and management of Saalt menstrual cups as well as developing a Non-Transmissible Diseases Manual for Project Site Huancayo, Peru that explained non-transmissible diseases and how to manage and prevent them. Many students credited the project development as being their favorite part of the program with Shreya from Lafayette College commenting, “I loved working on the volunteer project the most. It made me feel like I was actually making an impact on these communities and gave me perspective.”

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Virtual Clinical Observations with Project Alajuelita

Participants were able to virtually observe psychology, pharmacy, and primary care consults with FIMRC’s Project Alajuelita team in Costa Rica. Students were able to observe a phone consultation with psychologist Patricia, observe Dra. Karen as she walked primary care patients through our new Whatsapp telemedicine platform, and shadowed the pharmacist, Dayan, as he passed out medications to patients at the clinic. A few students even go to read out the medication directions to some of the patients in Spanish with Dayan’s help!

Professional Networking with FIMRC Alumni

Chapter members really appreciated the professional panels we hosted and felt they were able to learn a lot from those. Professional Networking included a “How to Get into Medical School” Session with Amy Vanderstoep, a medical student at Michigan State University and a former FIMRC intern at Project Restauración, where students learned about Amy’s journey to medical school. Students also got to hear from Gianna Moulton, PA, Stacy Wallick, MPH, and even FIMRC’s Founder & President, Dr. Vikram D. Bakhru. Panelists shared more about their experiences throughout their career paths and students especially enjoyed hearing about their tips on how to effectively network, even for beginners! Madison, the president of the Lafayette FIMRC Chapter, said, “As a pre-med and college student, I found the professional panel and the ‘How to Get into Medical School” session to be incredibly helpful for my own professional development.”

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Global Health & Chapter Impact

Lastly, students learned more about global health topics through a discussion led by Jessica Southern, FIMRC’s Key Relations Manager, and through a FIMRC-themed Jeopardy trivia game. Jeopardy was a fun way to learn more about global health while testing their existing knowledge. The retreat ended with a Chapter Session where participants brainstormed new ways to support FIMRC and shared those ideas with other Chapters. 

All in all, the students blew us away with their passion and engagement. Whether they were engaging with professionals in the networking session or presenting their projects to other participants, their enthusiastic and energetic smiles lit up the screen. Participants and staff left the retreat feeling inspired by the shared mission of improving access to healthcare around the world. Dr. Bakhru’s original inspiration for seeing students and young people as the future leaders of global health was incredibly evident in the experience. 

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Get Involved with FIMRC

Are you a part of your FIMRC Chapter, want to join your FIMRC Chapter, or want to start a new Chapter? Email [email protected] for more information on FIMRC’s Virtual Chapter Retreat, and don’t forget to join the January 4th - January 7th session of the Virtual Chapter Retreat here

Interested in volunteering abroad or participating in our virtual programs? Check them out below!

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