Dr. Wil Interview

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One of the students who went to a GMT trip asked the following questions to Dr. Wil for a school assignment.

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1.What was your career path in the United States (schooling, residency, private practice?, etc.)?
U of IL...undergrad, medical. Post grad in Detroit. US Public Health Service..2 yrs. 26 yrs private practice in Family / General Medicine...rural.

2.What inspired you to get involved in international medicine?
Combination of desires..1-to apply my lifelong Humanistic philosophy / way of life.. plus medical skills.. in a different, meaningful way..2- to provide free health care to under / non-served people...3-teach medicine..4-immerse in other cultures..5-travel ...6-personally develop a new (for me)/ different mode of providing health care.

3.What was the name of the program you were with before forming GMT?

International Service Learning.

4.What do you love about GMT?

For me...I have total control / responsibility to 1)-develop a high quality experience for students...2)-freedom and control to provide high quality, totally free health care to very needy people...3)-the joy of feeling the positive results from 1&2.

5.What do you dislike or wish to change in the future for GMT?

The outcome / results have been very good with the present program ..so I won't change that, other than continuous fine tuning and tweaking. I have a larger vision of GMT becoming primarily a student run organization..ie by & for students...with continuing oversight /guidance by ''professionals''. Presently developing campus Student GMT Organizations at 2 large Universities..these will provide models / outcome info for adapting such programs to other campuses. These will all be ''connected'' (online, trips, etc) to form a sharing, supporting, growing network. We need to provide more financial aid support for students who could not otherwise be able to come on trips...this would be integrated with the campus organizations.

6.What challenges do you face on the GMT trips?
1-Keeping everyone healthy and safe [under rather adverse conditions]...2-trying to maximixe the trip experience for EVERYONE [given considerable diversity, objectives, stamina, ''comfort zones''.. amongst the students]...3-maintaining local, enthusiastic, teaching and service oriented, high quality professional support staff.....4-flexibly adapting to unpredictable itinerary / logistic /weather, etc problems and conditions.

7.How have your experiences made you a better doctor?
...AND a better person [I'll add] ..1--repetitive deeper emphasis on Humanistic priorities..personally, locally, globally....2--a wider / deeper vision of profound health care issues on a local, regional, global basis...3..greater insight into the variably entrenched / perpetuated / ''+/- hopless'' plight of the poor, oppressed, exploited people of the world.

8.What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in international medicine?
1- be sure you feel passionate about the above things...check this out by taking 1-2+ intrntnl mission trips, etc 2-if this checks out negative, take a different pathway...3-if positive, then focus on acquiring a max. of skills and knowledge to apply...4-supplement with a broad-based liberal arts knowledge foundation upon which to meaningfully implement #3.

January 30, 2007

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One of the patient's that I will never forget were two little girls of the ages 5 and 6, who portrayed symptoms of malnutrition, which I later learned that it was due to the lack of parental/guardian supervision. Apart from their poor health conditions, they also lived in poor living conditions, where both of them had to sleep in the floor and one of them did not own a pair of shoes. After, diagnosing the patients and consulting with each member from my group, we thought that the best GMT can do is to provide both of them with sufficient vitamins, iron tablets, and parasite treatment for at least 2 months. Even then, we thought that giving the little girls these medications was very little in our dispense. This was one of the cases that definitely marked my perspective about the patient's healthcare in third world countries and how the poverty in Panama is incomparable to first world poverty.- Angela, Junior, Hunter College