Back in February, Pugh boarded a plane at Dulles airport and flew into Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The plane ride was not for a vacation. Instead, Pugh was traveling for a service trip in Comayagua, Honduras. Pugh’s service trip lasted for one week, beginning on Feb. 25, and ending on Mar. 4.
Pugh’s service trip was with a group called the Pan American Medical Society. Each year, this group takes a surgical brigade/surgical mission trip to a rural city in Honduras. The group consisted of mostly adults and a few high school students who helped well over 100 patients over the span of a week. This trip was Pugh’s first experience with a medical mission. Pugh’s mom has been going with this group for the past 10 years. “I had the chance to go with my mom this year, and I now know why she goes year after year,” Pugh said.
There were some other high school students who traveled with the group, and they did as much as they could to help the mission be successful. The high school students, including Pugh, were in charge of unpacking trunks of medical supplies, stocking pre-ops, ORs and PACUs. The group also observed some surgical procedures, which Pugh found most interesting. Also, Pugh translated information into Spanish when taking the patients to their overnight rooms, and helped to make turn-over as quick as possible between cases.
Pugh wanted to contribute in any way that he could. “I literally tried my best to never EVER sit down and do nothing,” Pugh said.
This trip is not the first time that Pugh has been behind the scenes of surgeries, and in the hospitals. Pugh has been working with an ER doctor at Suburban Hospital since August, and has learned a lot about medicine and how to treat different cases.
The group stayed in a hotel in the city, which, according to Pugh was “semi nice.” There were 30 people in the group, and all 30 of them took up almost every room in the hotel. Pugh only knew a few people who were going on the trip beforehand, but his mom knew almost every person. After the trip, Pugh knew everyone well and built strong friendships. “I had more fun in that one week hanging out with a bunch of adults than I have had in a long time…they’re just fun people,” Pugh said.
During this trip, Pugh got to help with all aspects of putting on the surgical brigade, which makes him feel good about his volunteer efforts. For Pugh, this trip reassured him that his decision to pursue medicine is the right one for him. The patients were “so thankful, so trusting, and did not complain at all. Coming back to the United States was hard, because I saw people constantly complaining about things that did not matter at all,” Pugh said.
While looking back on his trip, Pugh had a thought: “This trip has made me so much more appreciative of the opportunities I have, but also made me think about the maturity level/cultural awareness of the people around me.”