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Athletic Trainer Jake Howard Joins “Team Summit” on Honduras Medical Mission for One World Surgery

Jake Howard, athletic trainer and practice development manager for Summit shares his story from his medical mission in Honduras for One World Surgery.

Joining the medical mission

Jake Howard is a certified and licensed athletic trainer who serves as Summit’s practice development manager of the arthritis service line. He has worked at Summit for four years, beginning as part of the athletic training team before transitioning to a practice development role two years ago.

Jake had talked with his colleagues at Summit, who had shared the positive experiences they had going to Honduras as part of the Summit team for One World Surgery. He volunteered to go for one week in January 2022.

“My favorite part of the experience was the team atmosphere. We had a whole bunch of volunteers. You don’t have to be an athletic trainer to go there — anyone with an interest in helping people would get fulfillment from volunteering with One World Surgery,” he said.

Summit Orthopedics has been involved with medical missions to Honduras for 20 years. One of Summit’s dedicated orthopedic surgeons, Peter Daly, M.D., traveled to Honduras as a young physician and was inspired to help after he saw the medical needs of children at an orphanage there. He raised money and opened a surgery center on the site of the orphanage, and eventually, he cofounded One World Surgery with SCA Medical Mission. One World Surgery’s mission is to provide safe, timely, and accessible medical and surgical care to people in need across the world. Today, One World Surgery provides medical and surgical care in nine different specialties across Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

Once he made the decision to go, Howard said, getting there was easy. “One World Surgery took care of all the visa details and flights. I just had to show up with my passport at the airport,” Howard said.

During the medical mission

When he arrived, Howard found comfortable amenities, good food, and hot, dry weather. Each morning, an administrative team member would distribute a daily agenda and schedule. Then, everyone would disperse to work on their assigned tasks from about 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. After work each evening, Howard joined other team members for a hike or a swim before dinner.

For the first three days, Howard worked to organize “the bodega” — which was a small brick building with storage racks and bins where donated durable medical equipment like braces, crutches, and orthotics were stored for use. Howard led a team of pre-med students in the process of opening the boxes, sorting items into sizes, and creating an inventory list.

After that work was complete, Howard helped out however he could, from picking up trash outside to giving knee injections in the clinic. On one memorable day, Howard scrubbed into an OR to assist. “It was a useful experience for me, because I had been considering a more OR-focused career trajectory. Although it was interesting, the OR experience confirmed my decision to concentrate on administration.”

When asked whether he would consider going on another trip with One World Surgery, Howard said, “Absolutely. When you go there, you realize that the work you do — there as well as back here at home — makes a real difference. I came back recharged, with a deeper well of patience and more of a sense of gratitude for what we have here in the United States.”