That’s why each spring break, University of Florida Doctor of Audiology students and faculty travel to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to provide free hearing health care to people with low income.
“This is an amazing opportunity and experience for both students and faculty,” said Alice Holmes, Ph.D., a professor of audiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, and a member of UF’s Project Yucatan.
Last week, the UF team offered services to 1,070 Yucatan residents and provided more than 50 hearing aids, 3,000 hearing aid batteries, and medications and supplies that were donated or purchased through fundraising projects throughout the year.
The group included UF students and faculty members from the audiology and pharmacy programs, as well as students and faculty from the University of Oklahoma.
“There is a strong inter-professional component between the audiology and pharmacology students,” Holmes said. “Audiology students frequently help with interpretation from English to Spanish of both audiology and pharmacology information. Additionally, pharmacology students help provide counseling regarding cerumen (earwax) management, external otitis, fungus, hearing protection and hearing loss.”
The UF group partners with Mexican organizations AYPRODA and the National System for Integral Family Development to ensure that people who were identified with hearing health problems receive follow-up care.
“Everyone involved, students, professors, patients and our Mexican partners, benefited from the experience in Mexico,” Holmes said. “The students’ clinical skills grow immeasurably during the experience.”