UA Medical Students Travel to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, to Treat Underserved, Practice Medicine

Monday, June 11, 2018

A small group of medical students from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson will travel to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, Saturday, June 16, to help host a free, one-day health clinic for the border town’s medically underserved.

“Mexico provides good medical services for those who are employed, but in many cases, those who cannot prove employment or work atypical jobs, fall through the cracks,” explains second-year medical student Ricardo Ayala. “And for those that do receive care, they are often not able to afford the prescribed medications.”

At the three-hour clinic at the Centro Comunitario Nueva Esperanza (Calle 19 y 20 Avenida 40 Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico), medical students will be responsible for taking patient histories, performing physical exams and making assessments and treatment plans. They also can use and improve their medical Spanish. A volunteer physician will oversee the operation and prescribe medications free of charge to those who need them.

The UA medical students expect to see nine to 12 patients during the visit. The most common medical conditions they expect to diagnose and treat are hypertension and diabetes.

The health clinic is spearheaded by the UA Flying Samaritans club, which makes monthly visits to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. The club is open to UA students from all colleges and hosts regular fundraisers across campus to raise money for medical supplies and medications.

Stephen Davidson, a first-year UA medical student who is coordinating medical student involvement, says the short international trip is a great learning opportunity for future physicians because of the hands-on experience it provides and exposure to health care in a developing country.

“It not only offers the opportunity to improve our clinical reasoning skills but to also get regular experience in international health care,” Davidson explains. “Most medical schools offer some sort of clinical rotation where students can go abroad in their final year of studies — but with Tucson being so close to the border, we have the unique opportunity to help provide monthly care throughout our entire four years of training.”

About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university’s partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, please visit

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