Around the Globe Series: Featuring Monique Simpson

Around the Globe Series

International Affairs Committee

SNMA members are active around the globe working to bridge health care disparities! If you have done research, elective or volunteer work in the realm of global health we would like to hear about it! Submissions to our Around the Globe Series can be submitted to

The following narrative is from member, Monique Elise Simpson, an MD Candidate in the Class of 2014 at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who served as part of the Nicaragua Service Project during her 2011 spring break. She serves SNMA as the Region X International Affairs Liason.



I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Nicaragua on a medical service trip over my 2011 Spring Break. The experience was truly phenomenal, and I realized just how much a team of volunteers can do with one week of service in a country that has very limited resources.

Nicaragua is a beautiful country in Central America with a rich cultural history and a very diverse, multi-ethnic population. Despite its natural beauty, its turbulent past has negatively impacted its economy and it is one of the poorest [GP1] nations in the Western Hemisphere.

In the months prior to the trip, our team collected a plethora of supplies which included both medical and non-medical service necessities. Since we spent the majority of our time volunteering at the Eye Hospital, one of our largest initiatives was the collection of used glasses to donate and dispense in the clinic. The joint effort with the Rotary Club was hugely successful and over 2,000 pairs of glasses were donated. Student volunteers then read and documented the refractory indexes of the glasses in preparation for their pending donation. The team partnered with REMEDY to collect medical supplies from the Vanderbilt Hospitals. The Class of 2014 donated many sets of scrubs for the medical students and residents.

Once in Nicaragua, the students held a number [GP2] of Preventative Medicine Clinics for patients as they waited to be treated. These clinics addressed pertinent concerns including: diabetes education, basic CPR, basic hygiene and infection control and healthy lifestyle and nutrition. These clinics were well received by the patients, who relished the distraction during their long wait to see the local physicians. The Endocrinology Clinic at Vanderbilt also contributed during our day of service at the Alabama Diabetes Clinic in Granada, located a short distance from Nicaragua’s capital, Managua. Led by Dr. Fowler, Dr. Desai and Dr. Fenlason, we performed basic health screenings for diabetes and hypertension, and diagnosed a significant number of patients who were unaware of their disease.

The trip wasn’t all work and no play! We had a number of afternoon excursions to explore Nicaragua’s beauty and culture. We went volcano surfing, bathed in both the Pacific Ocean and Lake Nicaragua, which is notorious for tiburones (sharks), and explored both Managua and Granada in our spare time. We are currently planning our third medical mission trip for March 2012 and we are hoping to expand the opportunities to include summer research through Vanderbilt’s Emphasis program and an exciting new partnership with the Children’s Hospital in Managua.

To find out more about this project visit,


Filed Under: Global Health

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