In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Haiti continues to reel from infrastructural damage, population displacement, and a fractured healthcare delivery system. At the root of this healthcare delivery system is a critical shortage of competent physicians and clinicians. Medical Students For Haiti is a medical student organization that was founded in 2012 by a medical student at Mount Sinai to address this need. It has since grown into a 501-c3 nonprofit with over 100 members at six chapters across the United States and Canada. In just two years as a non-profit organization we have mobilized dozens of students to Haiti to work with Haitian medical students and medical institutions. We have also connected a network of supporters and donors among young professional communities in New York City, Montreal, Port-Au-Prince, and San Francisco.
The shortage of Haitian medical professionals stems from numerous factors including an inadequate number of competent clinical training programs, unstructured medical education systems, and a limited of access to basic science and clinical curricular resources by well intentioned but underfunded Haitian medical education institutions. Though there are efforts by organizations such as Partners in Health, Project HOPE, and Physicians for Haiti to address this shortage at the graduate medical education level, there is a dearth of such efforts for undergraduate medical education. Université Quisqueya is a medical school in Port-au-Prince that was devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Its medical students, though motivated, lack the access to many of the resources necessary to appropriately complete their pre-clinical training. Retention rates are estimated at 20%, with many who do graduate choosing to leave Haiti for other countries. This “brain drain” furthers the fact that there is an insufficient number of physicians practicing in Haiti. Medical Students for Haiti (MS4H) is attempting to utilize near-peer training and the concept of “academic twinning” to fill this void in the area of emergency response and basic life support competency.