UE Students to Help Nonprofit Organization Launch Medical Facility in Dominican Republic

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013

As part of an intensive summer course in applied process development – and an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in a developing country – 15 University of Evansville students will spend the next two weeks in the Dominican Republic.

From July 23-August 6, UE business, communication, engineering, and nursing students will work with the nonprofit organization G.O. Ministries to develop plans for the organization’s new medical facility, currently under construction in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

UE’s interdisciplinary, faculty-led team is tasked with creating process developments (such as determining efficient patient flow, how to secure medications and archive patient medical records, and more), business plans, and equipment and supply recommendations consistent with accepted United States practices.

The two-week course, for which students will receive three hours of academic credit, includes a classroom portion taught by UE professors, as well as fieldwork and observation at the existing G.O. Ministries medical clinic and other relevant sites in the Dominican Republic. The students will receive instruction in health administration, process development, and business plan development.

At the conclusion of the course, students will present their findings to G.O. Ministries for implementation in the new medical facility, scheduled for completion in Summer 2014.

“I think I’ll grow as a result of this opportunity through the application of what I’ve learned in class, but I’ll also have my eyes opened to another culture,” said Jacquelyn Ballard, a business administration and international studies student from St. Louis, Missouri, United States. “I hope that this changes my perspective in how I view the world and my own values. On a professional level, I believe this will expose me to many different aspects of business in a very hands-on way, helping me understand exactly where I would like to focus or specialize.”

“Working with a multidisciplinary team provides me with new thought processes and chances to see the world through the eyes of other people,” said Brenna Siscoe, a nursing student from Dugger, Indiana, United States. “With new ways to view the world and all we have, I am able to be a more well-rounded worker and human being.”

"I decided to take part in this opportunity because I felt that I had a lot to offer this organization and that it would be a life-changing experience for me personally," said Vaughn Ahlf, a mechanical engineering major from Evansville. "Through the University, I participated on a team that took first place at the Lawerence Tech Innovation Encounter competition, where I learned problem-solving techniques and gained experience working with a multidisciplinary team. I also feel that my experience working as a mechanical engineering intern at the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center would help me with the medical aspect of this project."

UE faculty members accompanying the group are Amy Hall, White Family Endowed Professor and chair of the Dunigan Family Department of Nursing and Health Sciences; Richard Deer, director of UE’s Center for Intensive Experiential Education; and Jill Griffin, director of the Global Assistance Program in UE’s Institute for Global Enterprise. John Layer, associate professor of mechanical engineering, will deliver online course components.

Layer facilitated the relationship between UE and G.O. Ministries after he traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic with the organization. He saw opportunities for UE students to be involved in the design and planning phase of the organization’s projects.

Since then, University of Evansville students have assisted G.O. Ministries on projects in the Dominican Republic (assessing a 40-acre potential building site and designing a three-story building in 2008 and developing a solar water heater in 2010) and Mongolia (designing two new buildings and creating business plans for craft businesses in 2012).

“Over the last five years, the relationship with G.O. Ministries has led to transformational experiences for many of our students,” said Layer. “When students travel to developing countries, they often return home with a new sense of purpose and desire to make an impact. In addition, they benefit from working with an interdisciplinary team to address real-world problems and create solutions.” 

UE students traveling to the Dominican Republic are Vaughn Ahlf, Jacquelyn Ballard, Ryan Bassemier, Laura Best, Brandi Blosl, Abby Browder, Mathew Brown, Heather Browning, Renee Croce, Gaby Fifer, Rachel Mendoza-Santiago, Shannon Osiecki, Breianna Simpson, Brenna Siscoe, and Brynne Thompson.

The University of Evansville wishes to thank the Institute for Global Enterprise, the Center for Intensive Experiential Education, and the Lilly Endowment for their generous support of this educational experience.

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