Audiology Students Travel to the Yucatan Peninsula to Provide Free Hearing Healthcare to the Underprivileged

Each spring break, Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) students and faculty from the University of Oklahoma travel to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to provide free hearing healthcare to the underprivileged.  In Mexico, audiologic services are largely unavailable or too expensive for most who need it. In March 2015, faculty member Christi Barbee, Au.D. and eight Au.D. students from OU joined with 16 Au.D. students, four audiology faculty members, nine Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) students, and one pharmacy faculty member from the University of Florida to provide services to 1,042 people in the State of the Yucatan in Mexico. 

The teams partnered with AYPRODA, a non-profit organization in Mexico, and DIF (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) to diagnose and provide follow-up care to those identified with hearing health problems.  The trip provided over 50 hearing aids and 3000 hearing aid batteries as well as medication and other supplies that were either donated or purchased through fundraising projects throughout the year.  Additionally, audiology students helped provide counseling regarding wax management, ear infections, fungus, hearing protection, and hearing loss.  “The quality of care and professionalism exhibited by the Project Yucatan team was excellent.  Everyone involved - students, professors, patients and our Mexican partners - benefited from the experience in Mexico.  The students’ clinical skills grew immeasurably during the experience.  It was a unique opportunity to see the effects on hearing of diseases rarely seen in the USA due to vaccination availability”, said Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty member Christie Barbee. 

The students became more culturally competent by working with the Mayan and the Mexican cultures while in the country.  There was growth of a strong inter-professional relationship between the audiology and pharmacology students.  Audiology students frequently helped with interpretation from English to Spanish of both audiology and pharmacology information.  Each student was able to gain valuable clinical skills in otoscopic examination, tympanometric measures, cerumen management, audiometric evaluation and vestibular evaluation.

It was an amazing opportunity and experience for both students and faculty, and they need your help to go back in 2017! Project Yucatan hosts numerous fundraisers throughout the year to off-set the cost for each students, however they still end paying more than $900 out-of-pocket.  You can make a difference! Make a tax-deductible gift and help change a life!