Remote Outpost Clinic

A pre-clinic briefing at the Playa Verde Remote Outpost Clinic in Panama
(Photo Courtesy of Floating Doctors)

This October, 30 Internal Medicine Residents will participate in USC’s first Global Health Program. For one rotation, second- and third-year fellows will travel to Isla Colon, a small island off the coast of Panama, to provide healthcare screenings in the town of Bocas del Toro. They will provide locals with blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol, diabetes, and eye-sight screenings while working at a remote outpost with no access to electricity.

“A global health experience will provide our trainees with an important opportunity to learn cultural competency,” said Eric Hsieh, MD, Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. “People think of the county hospital as a resources limited environment. It is, compared to a private hospital. But it’s not on a global setting. This is going to help our trainees become well-rounded doctors.”                

Dr. Hsieh worked closely with several USC affiliates to make this program the first of its kind cleared by the university. He collaborated with the Master of Science in Global Medicine program to find locations for training residents. He also joined efforts with Benjamin LaBrot, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Education, who founded Floating Doctors. Floating Doctors is a traveling health clinic dedicated to providing healthcare worldwide and year-round. LaBrot’s organization operates the Panama location.

“I’m very excited to travel to Panama,” said Jenica Thangathurai, MD, a Chief Medical Resident participating in the inaugural rotation. “Working with underserved populations was a major reason I chose LAC+USC for internal medicine residency. This trip will give me the opportunity to work with a new group of people with a distinct set of medical needs.”

“I have a longstanding interest in public health and global medicine,” added Helen Yang, MD, a Chief Medical Resident participating in the rotation. “Though I anticipate various challenges, I look forward to new clinical learning and teaching opportunities while serving a vulnerable and rural population in a setting of limited resources.”

The residency program is exploring the possibility of establishing additional program sites. They plan to work with the Global Medicine program and Floating Doctors to locate future practice locations across the globe.

Eric Weintraub