Assessing Our Impact

Sunday, March 3, 2013

When A Tu Lado completed its first project in Venezuela, we felt our students’ successes spoke for themselves – that as students improved their skills in our courses, their hard work and growth was self-evident.

We have since learned to differentiate between outputs and outcomes. Training students, attaining high graduation rates, and improving the way students handle their patients throughout our courses: these, we have learned, are outputs. They are not the impact of our programs.

Tonight, we discovered new facets to the real impact of our work. At a reunion for graduates and instructors from our June 2012 Introduction to Emergency Medical Technician course, we met former students and updated each other on the past eight months. Everyone filled out surveys, providing data to track graduates’ academic and professional advances. One story stood out among the rest.

Previous to participating in our course, a medical doctor — let’s call him Mario — worked shifts in a community medical clinic. He saw many patients, but wasn’t comfortable in high-pressure emergency situations. That discomfort disappeared completely, he told us tonight. He explained how our course cultivated an ability to approach chaotic scenes with confidence and calm; how he learned the ABC’s of pre-hospital emergency care in lectures, and through practical simulations, learned to rapidly delegate tasks to a team. His growing confidence was a game-changer. And so, upon graduating, he applied to Medicar, a private ambulance service in Cochabamba. He aced their practical exam during his interview and earned a place in Medicar’s ranks as an emergency physician on board their ambulances. Today, he maintains his former position in the clinic, but enjoys a higher income. Moreover, his training enables him to improve patient outcomes through valuable pre-hospital care.

Mario’s story has given us newfound inspiration to continue our work. At the same time, it’s bittersweet: having completed only an Introduction to EMT course, Mario has just scratched the surface of pre-hospital care. As you may know, it is our hope that later this year, UMSS can launch a full-length EMT course, offering people like Mario the chance to improve their skills, pursue new careers, and serve their community. If you share this vision, we invite you to support our work by donating today.