It was nearing evening in a remote mountain village in southwestern Honduras when Zack Lipsman, M.D. (M.D. ’15/M), spotted a young girl waiting with her friends outside of the makeshift clinic where he had been working all afternoon. He was there on a 10-day service trip in June 2012, the summer after his first year of medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“She looked kind of sad and lost,” Lipsman says. He went outside with a few other medical students to ask if she needed to be seen by a doctor. As he got closer, he realized why she was there.
“When we saw she was pregnant, everyone kind of just froze for a minute,” he says. “She was so young, and she clearly had no concept of what her future would be like. We had to huddle together to think about how we could best help her.”
The 13-year-old was late in her second trimester and had never been seen by a doctor. The students arranged for her to have her first prenatal screening the next day.
“That was a turning point for a lot of students in realizing the gravity of what we were doing there,” Lipsman says.