KU School of Medicine-Wichita

Embark 2017

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20 Spanish-speaking Paraguay, with an estimated 7 million people, lies between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Although increasingly industrialized, it remains among South America's poorest countries. Most recently, Dr. Laura Mayans, family medicine clerkship director, visited along with her husband, Dr. David Mayans. They traveled to three cities — the capital city of Asunción, Encarnación and Ciudad del Este — and visited medical schools and facilities in each, staying with host families during the trip. Mayans gave a presentation on obesity and also did some research so that she can help guide KU School of Medicine-Wichita students who choose to do an international rotation in Paraguay, as a dozen students from Wichita and 15 from Kansas City have done since 2000. "My focus was to look at the different opportunities our students would have if they wanted to do a rotation," Mayans said. "In the fourth year, KU medical students can choose to do a month there, and we're hoping to get more students to go." "Each city has its own flavor, and depending on the student's interests, I can direct them," Mayans said. Learning lessons in Kansas Kansans are not the only visitors in the partnership. Faculty and students from Paraguay also come to Wichita to learn about family medicine and the American medical system. "We send our family physician leaders to get a taste of the training programs in family medicine in a very different setting," Schmidt said. "These visits have impacted the lives of a large number of our teachers of family medicine." After former KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway challenged all students and faculty in the late 1990s to have an international experience during their education, the family medicine ties between Kansas and Paraguay became more formalized. Members of the Department of Family and Community Medicine discussed ways and places that the department could have a lasting impact on international health. They chose Paraguay for several reasons, including earlier trips by faculty and ties among some Kansans to the country. "It's a poor country and we thought we could have a more lasting impact on improving the health care delivery system by concentrating our department efforts in a single country," said Rick Kellerman, M.D., chair of the Wichita campus' Department of Family and Community Medicine. Over the years, Kellerman, Drs. Scott Moser and Doug Woolley and other full-time faculty have gone to Paraguay. "We try every year to have one of us go down there or one of their faculty come up here. We have pretty much hit the mark every year," Kellerman said.

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