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BLD Alumna Brings Clinical Knowledge Abroad To Help Others

You never know where your clinical training will take you or where you will take your clinical training.  Kelsey Hummel, BLD '13 and a fourth year MSU School of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) medical student recently travelled to Peru with MSUCOM to help run a clinic in the Amazon.  The Amazon like many regions near the equator has a high burden of infectious disease.  During her time in Peru, Hummel was able to draw on her clinical training and previous experience as a laboratory scientist to help test for parasites such as Giardia and Cryptospoirdium.  The Biomedical Laboratory Program donated testing materials for Hummel to conduct these tests and she says, “the cards worked beautifully in the field, and we were able to treat community members appropriately. Now we have base line data for future years, as well as a test we can train somebody to do if I am not able to go next year.” 

Photo of laboratory supplies
Laboratory supplies used by Kelsey Hummel on her trip to Peru.

This baseline data is important because MSUCOM’s goal isn’t just to treat the infections but hopefully prevent them by helping to install water filters.  Without the baseline data collected by Hummel and her colleagues, they wouldn’t know if the filters were effective.

In addition to helping test for parasites, Hummel was able to draw on her chemistry experience to help a resident figure out what test tubes he needed to draw blood samples for a field research project.  Hummel said, that this moment emphasized “the disconnect between the lab and clinical medicine” and highlighted how valuable her own clinical experiences will be as she prepares to become a physician.

Photo of Kelsey Hummel Conducting lab work in the field
Kelsey Hummel conducts lab work in the Peruvian Amazon.

Reflecting on her time in Peru, Hummel says, “When you have a patient, sitting in a chair next to you, waiting to find out if they have parasites or not, it puts a different kind of urgency on your work.  This will determine whether a doctor prescribes a medication or not.  While I know doctors in these clinics have grown accustomed to not have much if any testing available, I hope that at some point in the future I can try to set up a mobile laboratory facility that moves with the MSUCOM clinic to provide helpful laboratory testing.  Overall, I am happy that my medical technology degree was able to provide a service on this trip that no one has done before, and I was able to make a positive impact doing so.”