L and goats (2)

Make A Difference

CerviCusco is a unique opportunity where – as cliche as it sounds – you feel like you are making the world a better place. You get to be an integral part of something so much bigger than yourself. Cusqueños (the native Cusco people) are warm and welcoming and so appreciative. One day we saw several women who had traveled overnight, twelve hours on a bus, to follow up on abnormal Pap smears. The midwife from that community came with them – she was the only medical professional in the entire village. She took meticulous notes about each patient’s colposcopy and their plan for follow up or surgery. At the end of the day, several women emptied the bags they brought with them full of produce as a way to say thank you. They wouldn’t let us decline it! Being a part of CerviCusco renews the gratitude you have for taking care of patients and really reminds you of what a privilege it is that others trust you with their health.

–Lawren Honken, MD


Research Experience

I traveled to remote regions surrounding Cusco, helped to set up tents in community marketplaces, and administered cervical cytology tests as well as HPV vaccines while conducting research aimed to determine a novel incentive technique to improve follow up to care. I was personally able to administer 437 surveys, collect over 17,000 data points, and analyze statistics in an effort to improve the follow up to care for the patients we served. Most importantly, however, I was able to gain greater clarity into the challenges of these individuals and families by spending time and getting to know many of the marginalized farmers, families, and residents of the Andes countryside. In each of these interactions I began to better understand the barriers to care each patient faced, the backgrounds of the individual, and the needs of the community.  Read more…

–Jessica Chen, Medical Student


Expand your Knowledge

The CerviCusco experience was not only an enriching part of my residency training but also an important start to my future as a global provider. The first week spent with Dr. Ferris was concentrated with patients diagnosed with pre-invasive cervical disease. Seeing this high volume of patients in a short period of time with intensive instruction by a world expert in the field was invaluable. I have been able to apply that training in my day-to-day life as a gynecologist as I treat pre-invasive cervical disease. The experience at CerviCusco was also enlightening into how a well-established clinic with native staff can provide meaningful continuity of care unlike some other short term trips I have participated in. The rotation has set a foundation for me as I prepare to do global health as a women’s health provider in my future practice. Thank you for this opportunity.

–Andrea Garrick, MD


Hands-On Learning

My intern year, I participated in the CerviCusco experience. I worked with Dr. Ferris in the clinic, screening and treating patient with cervical cancer. I visited villages where women lined up for hours to receive a pap smear. I also had the pleasure of working in the hospital on the OB/GYN wards and delivering 10 Peruvian babies! The trip was challenging for me, as I left my 9 month old at home, but I have carried the experience with me for all four years of my residency. The experience gave me a greater insight into why we do what we do and what we can accomplish as OB/GYNs. It broadened my horizons and stretched my comfort zone. I’ll never forget the adventure, and I can promise that it wasn’t the last global health trip for me. 

Nicole Wellbaum, MD

New Experiences

My experience with CerviCusco exceeded all of my expectations. I have always been a lover of traveling, but I have never had the opportunity to do volunteering like I did at CerviCusco. Going on campaigns to rural towns throughout Peru was eye-opening; I had never been to a country with extreme poverty like I saw or a lifestyle that was that vastly different from my own. Not only were these campaigns eye-opening, but they were also unbelievably rewarding. Knowing that some of these women traveled miles to get their Pap smears was motivation to work hard and do the best that I could when performing exams. And every single lady was incredibly thankful.

Ultimately, the campaigns into the communities surrounding Cusco were the most rewarding experiences. It was during the campaigns that I felt truly immersed in Andean culture and got to perform as many as 35 Paps a day. Prior to this trip, I had little experience with conducting breast and pelvic exams. I now can go onto my next rotation and future career with confidence that I can locate the cervix and provide a thorough exam. That experience enriched my life and further confirmed my desire to go to into medicine. Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity. I feel truly blessed.

–Lindsey Bergman, PA


The CerviCusco Lab Makes an Impact

I worked in CerviCusco as a part of the Pathology mission group during July of 2017.  My mother, who was born in Cusco and immigrated to the US as a teenager, was the pathologist trip leader. I worked in the pathology lab organizing lab materials and patient specimens, cover-slipping pap smear slides and filing patient data. Although I had limited patient interaction, I felt that I directly contributed to the care of the nearly 800 women whose pap smears where screened while I was there. Working side by side with a team of cytotechnologists and pathologist, I gained a greater understanding of the importance of this test in preventative medicine and the impact it has on women’s health.  The work CerviCusco does in providing Pap smears to women in the highlands of Peru is saving lives. To be part of such a humanitarian effort impacted my life. It reinforced my desire to help others, it open my eyes to the profound healthcare needs of people in these areas and it allowed me to learn more about my own heritage. Importantly, it also strengthened my relationship with my mom.  Seeing how meaningful it was for her to give back to her native Cusco was heartwarming and inspiring. I plan to continue contributing to Cervicusco through fundraising efforts and hope to be part of its success in improving people’s lives in Peru.

–Mateo Blair, High School Student

Carolyn Zahler-Miller

Significant for Education

The Peru rotation was a really great experience overall. It was very useful to see how medicine and ob/gyn is practiced in another setting. Culturally, there were differences which are helpful to recognize as a learning physician in order to care for and relate to the patients. Access to medical care was different as well. Certain laboratory and imaging tests we rely on in the US weren’t always available, which required us to rely more on clinical diagnosis. This was helpful for expanding my physical exam skills. We also had a great experience with colposcopy and LEEP procedures while there. Overall, I felt I learned significantly from the Peru rotation at CerviCusco and in the hospitals in Cusco, Peru. 

–Carolyn Zahler-Miller, MD


Significant for Education

The educational time I had was of exquisite quality and I learned a tremendous amount.  I was able to get a better insight into the world of Global Health from an NGO point of view, and I was able to see how countries with less resources than the US are able and sometimes not able to meet the healthcare needs of their populations.  I was able to learn more about the role of Family Medicine vs a generalist vs a specialist in a transitional country such as Peru while the rotation was great at getting a lot of experience in PAP smears and becoming more comfortable with performing transvaginal ultrasounds.  

Erin Board, DO, MPH

As an aside, Dr. Board placed second in Machu Picchu Kayak Event for whitewater kayaking while in Peru!  She is one amazing woman!