Partners for Rural Health was first established in 1995 by the University of Southern Maine, College of Nursing and Health Professions. Later faculty members and volunteers established Partners as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization to continue to promote access to continuous care and health education in the Dominican Republic.
Twice a year, volunteers, faculty, healthcare professionals and nursing, athletic training, medical, and Spanish study students work with their counterparts in the Dominican Republic to provide health care in homes, schoolrooms, and churches. We consistently serve over 2,000 patients in 15 mountain villages where there is limited access to medical care. We engage, educate, and empower our patients - and ourselves. We educate our patients by providing basic instruction in the areas of nutrition and disease prevention, dental health, and hygiene, including a certificate training program for community health promotoras. We empower our patients to use this knowledge to make healthy choices in caring for themselves and their families. At the same time, volunteers and students gain valuable professional experience and education through engaging with patients directly in a real clinical setting. The education received during the mission empowers us all to achieve a higher level of confidence and professionalism when serving our local community. Participation in the program offers exciting learning opportunities in service delivery, teamwork, and cross cultural experiences.