By Bryan Kent, DC
Hola! Me llamo Bryan Kent, soy un voluntario doctor para World Spine Care en Republica de Dominicana!
For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, I will translate; Hello! My name is Bryan Kent, I am a volunteer doctor for World Spine Care in the Dominican Republic! Over the past week I have had the humbling experience of treating spine pain among other chief complaints for the people of the Dominican Republic.
The opportunity to work with World Spine Care arose when my best friend from chiropractic school, Dr. Stephen Laski, became the clinic supervisor for World Spine Care in the city of Moca, Dominican Republic. Steve and I first became friends through serving as class officers. One semester later, we found ourselves competing for positions on our SACA executive board. We’ve been best friends ever since. Dr. Laski and I continued our involvement with SACA until the day we graduated, and we continue to be active members to this day.
When Steve suggested that I come down and volunteer, another ACA colleague, Stephanie Halloran, and I jumped at the opportunity. Stephanie and I had no way of preparing ourselves for how different performing an exam and treating patients would be when there is a language barrier. Simple instructions such as “Turn on your side and face me” became disjointed. I began to question everything that I was thinking and saying. After my first day, I was utterly exhausted. Every task had to be performed three times in my brain! The patients here thankfully are very understanding. Many appointments run long because of the time spent laughing and teasing me about how horrible my Spanish is, but everyone is a good sport about it.
It has been said that mathematics is the universal language, however, I have come to know others during my time here in the Dominican Republic. The first is pain. No matter where you come from or what language you speak, your pain is unique and can be very disruptive to your life. The second is compassion and empathy. While I struggle with the language barrier, I have found that my care and touch speak louder than my words ever could. I found myself relying on my hands to speak and interpret significantly more than I would when I could communicate freely with my words. While I could not ask if they could feel my compassion and empathy, it is my hope that they could feel it through my care.
Through this experience, I will remember most the people I encountered in the clinic. Through my travels around the world I have never felt so welcomed in an environment as I did here in the Dominican Republic. Every person I worked with in the clinic was more gracious and thankful than anything I have yet to experience. I highly encourage everyone to look into this opportunity because it truly is life changing. Please visit www.worldspinecare.org for more information.
Dr. Kent, a recent graduate of New York Chiropractic College, practices in Rochester, N.Y. He will be joining a new practice in Boston, Mass. as an associate chiropractor. Dr. Kent is also a practitioner of Chinese medicine and a licensed acupuncturist.