Uganda-January 2015 by Tara Burns
Recently Surgicorps International celebrated their 20th year anniversary and I just returned home from my 20th mission trip with Surgicorps. As I reflect on this milestone I am compelled to put my thoughts into writing.
It is difficult to find words to describe what Surgicorps means to me. Ten years ago as a college student, I began my journey with Surgicorps. I could never have dreamed or imagined the impact that Surgicorps would have on my life or that I would have the opportunity to travel to eight developing countries to assist in providing medical care to those in need.
My travels with Surgicorps have changed me as a physician assistant and as a person.
I have made many new friends from our country and many others from the various countries to which I have traveled.
When I enter hospitals in certain countries, I feel like I am participating in a homecoming. I find myself hugging and embracing my friends and “family” that I have not seen in a while.
Professionally, I have learned surgical techniques and gained medical knowledge from the very talented, competent doctors, nurses, surgical technicians, CRNA’s, and other physician assistants. This knowledge has carried over and been useful in my professional life in America.
While working closely with medical professionals in various countries, I have learned that there is more than one way of completing tasks and that the “American way” is not always the best way.
I have helped to create many “smiles”, but the patients who have received a new smile have made me smile even more!
Medical mission trips with Surgicorps keep me emotionally grounded and humble and have taught me many lessons in patience.
I have shed tears, acquired many bug bites, and lost weight from traveler’s GI illnesses. However, I would not change one thing about my experiences.
I have witnessed sickness and deformities, dealt with loss, and have seen the results of physical acts of violence provoked by other human beings that I could have never imagined. Helping individuals to “feel whole” again by surgically providing them with the ability to eat, talk, smile, walk, or use their arms, makes me thankful to have been blessed with skills as a PA and to be a volunteer with a group of individuals who share my mindset.
I am truly honored to have had all of these opportunities and privileges bestowed upon me by the age of 33.
Thank you Surgicorps (and the generosity of those that support your mission as donors and volunteers and make these trips possible) for impacting and changing my life forever. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities you have provided for me to help positively impact the lives of hundreds of adults and children. I look forward to traveling with you for many years to come!