Experiencing a culture an ocean away

Posted on April 27, 2017
Melaina Marinello gets a kiss from an elephant, in Thailand

Kinesiology student Melaina Marinello in Thailand.

During UWM’s 2016 Winterim, Melaina Marinello, a kinesiology student in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), travelled to Phitsanulok, Thailand to participate in a Gap Medics International study abroad program.

Marinello plans to pursue a graduate degree to become a physician assistant (PA) after graduating. PAs work closely with physicians or surgeons to do exams and diagnostic testing, prescribe medications and assist with other direct patient care.

The program in Thailand was a unique opportunity for Marinello to log clinical shadowing hours, which are required preparation for PAs. Admission to PA programs is extremely competitive. Successful applicants not only must have an exemplary GPA and academic record, but also demonstrate excellence and experience in health care related work.

During her time abroad, Marinello gained necessary professional experience while immersing herself in Thai culture.

Gaining on-the-job training

While in Thailand, Marinello worked with a mentor physician who involved her in many details of the job, including seeing clinical patients and surgeries. “I observed a bladder removal surgery, open heart surgery, a birth, biopsies and more,” Marinello said.

Marinello also worked with other study abroad students from around the world. Along with weekly clinical hours, students in the program had the opportunity to attend global health presentations given by doctors and pharmacists.

Experiencing a culture an ocean away

Though on-the-job demands took much of her time, Marinello was able to visit an orphanage, night bazaars, which are outdoor markets, and traveled to many temples. Among her favorite outings was a trip to feed and play with elephants.

“I will never forget this powerful and humbling life-changing journey. I can’t speak about this program without lighting up. I would encourage anyone considering a study broad program to go for it! Mine was an experience I will never forget.”