Alumni Matt Tieszen and Blake Rogers, both graduate students in the physician assistant program at James Madison University, recently returned from an elective clinical rotation at Shirati KTM Hospital in Tanzania.
Rogers, a 2014 graduate with a degree in biology and environmental sustainability, was honored the week before departing for Tanzania with the national PA Student of the Year Award from the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
He wrote about their experiences in Tanzania in a blog post for AAPA. Tieszen and Rogers were the first PAs from JMU’s program to complete a clinical rotation there; the hospital has regularly hosted JMU nursing students, 10 of whom were part of this summer’s group.
Shirati serves a rural population of more than 200,000 with limited resources, including, as Tieszen and Rogers found out, diminished blood supplies.
While the two were assisting with an emergency Caesarean section, the patient’s uterus ruptured and the preceptor asked if anyone was a universal blood donor.
“My classmate declared, ‘I am,’” Rogers wrotes, “as he stepped away from the operating table preparing to disgown. Without thinking twice, Matt selflessly gave our patient and her infant an opportunity at life.”
Days were spent making rounds through the four wards: for male, female, maternity and pediatrics. In addition to assisting with daily deliveries, the duo treated patients with malaria and schistosomiasis, scrubbed in for surgical cases, which ranged from hernia repairs to extremity amputations; and assisted with community outreach programs that ranged from blood glucose screenings to HIV education workshops.
In the post, Rogers speaks of the value of “being an engaged citizen in both my local and global communities.”
He spent his EMU cross-cultural experience studying biology and Spanish in Bolivia and the Galapagos Islands. A medical mission team experience in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, confirmed his desire to enter the medical field, he said.
“Each opportunity abroad has added depth to my understanding of the world and how I impact it,” he writes.
While a double-major at EMU in biology and environmental sciences, Rogers volunteered with the Clover Hill Volunteer Fire Department. He also interned with the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District and accepted a job there after graduation.
In addition to pursuing his PA degree, Blake is also a member of the local emergency services and has been a volunteer instructor for EMS services.