Chelsea Hawley, University of Pittsburgh - Medical
I started doing more intensive work as a student pharmacist in Haiti during my undergrad and graduate coursework at the University of Pittsburgh. At that time, my now husband Alec and I felt strongly that our colleagues at school should have the opportunity to serve in Haiti. Our vision for these trips was in to inspire our peers to be humanitarian and service-minded medical professionals after they graduated from their respective disciplines. This group of individuals would later be composed of physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, dentists, dental hygienists, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, and physician assistants. I think our shared vision was certainly to offer as much quality, direct patient care and access to donated medications as possible during those trips. However, our greater vision then and now is to empower Haitian practitioners and community health workers to create positive change in their communities. The people of Haiti deserve a workforce of talented providers of quality healthcare who understand the sociology of health in Haiti and are able to deliver healthcare and sanitation initiatives to improve the public health in their own communities.
I am a clinical pharmacist working at the Veterans Affairs at this point and am not as directly involved in Haiti as I would like to be. In the future, I hope to use my training as a clinical pharmacist to support medical providers and community health workers in Haiti with a reliable, steady supply of life-saving medications. This likely means utilizing money from donors to purchase medications manufactured in Port-au-Prince and working with donors and wholesalers in the United States to provide medications that are not widely available in-country. I also hope to provide experiences for medical trainees in the United States to work alongside Haitian medical teams to allow both groups to learn from one another and share best practices. Most importantly, I hope to mentor a group of students who aspire to be health care providers that make a difference in the United States and abroad. The world needs providers of care that humbly serve one another, and I was lucky to be inspired by physicians and medical students working in Haiti who continue to do just that.