Video Spotlights SMU's Impact on Residents at U.S.-Mexico Border

Every spring break for the past seven years Samuel Merritt University (SMU) has sent a large group of students to a small town at the U.S.-Mexico border to provide free healthcare.

This year, filmmaker Johnny Moreno tagged along to capture the weekend clinic, which included 32 students and faculty from SMU’s California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM), as well as Occupational Therapy (OT), and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs.

“I was amazed at how busy the clinic was and how quickly and professionally the students tended to their client’s needs,” said Moreno, who has worked on documentaries in Mexico and filmed travel shows for the Discovery Channel. “This was a full-blown clinic, and the residents were clearly grateful to see SMU students.”

Dr. Carlos J. Correa Bernier, Director of Education and Immersions Programs at the San Ysidro Centro Romero, which hosted the clinic, said SMU’s annual visit was often the only time residents received healthcare.

“Many people feel oppressed that we don’t have services here,” Correa Bernier said. “We don’t have a clinic in the community; we don’t have a hospital in the community. Many of them don’t get any medical care throughout the year, especially the elderly. So by your school coming here with the students to San Ysidro, it’s the only opportunity that many of them will take care of the problems they’re facing.”

Close to 200 residents were treated at the free clinic.

At the end of the busy weekend, first-year podiatry student Dallas Valerio shared on camera the lessons he learned, and how it will impact his work as a future healthcare provider.

“The best part of this experience is being able to communicate with patients,” Valerio said. “Early on in our learning we don’t get to interact a lot with patients, and seeing what we’re able to do, I feel like it’ll always help me remember the level of care that we’re supposed to give and focus on the patient. It’s all about them. It’s always about making sure that people live healthy lives and that we’re out there serving them.”

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