First Day at CAIF

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A group of 15 UW-Stevens Point speech-language pathology graduate students are on a 12-day trip to the Center for Cleft Lip and Palate Care (CAIF) in Curitiba, Brazil.

By Pam Terrell, Ph.D.

Today was the first day at CAIF (Center for Cleft Lip and Palate Care). Two groups of students got to observe surgery–cleft lip and palate repair. The other group will go to surgery on Wednesday. In addition to surgery, the students observed the geneticist, pediatrician, ENT, psychologist, and orthodontist in the clinic. The day ended with two lectures from the geneticist and the ENT.

At dinner I asked the group of seven students what their favorite part of the day was. Many said surgery; others said getting to follow the patients through the multiple specialties. For me? That’s easy. See that flash of recognition across the students’ faces when they got to see syndromes they had only studied about in class, like Treacher Collins Syndrome. Seeing them able to quickly label syndromic characteristics in the children they saw. Hearing them talk about the surgeon using the Millard procedure to close a lip and the Furlow palatoplasty to close the palate; both of those are surgical techniques they learn in class but they got to see them up close and in person.

Everyone is tired from 11 straight hours at the clinic and hospital, but in good spirits. Culturally, they have been amazed at the amount of physical affection in public (you know, Latin lovers) and the fact that they can’t flush toilet paper here. The plumbing can’t handle it, so all TP has to go into the garbage. They are liking the food and loving the people!

Tomorrow, more clinic rotation, then an evening of tourism and dinner at a charrascaria, a traditional Brazilian steakhouse. Until tomorrow…boa noite!