Rowan University’s Travel Medicine Clinic Exists to Prepare Students for Time Abroad

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Students looking to travel abroad now or in the near future should consider stopping by Rowan University’s new Travel Medicine Clinic located in Stratford, New Jersey to help prepare them for their time abroad.

Part of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM), the clinic was established in the fall of 2021 and has been assisting students ever since.

The travel clinic offers a number of services to students who are looking to travel, including vaccinations, consultations, advice and travel tips. 

Dr. Michael Barnish of the RowanSOM Department of Medicine is an infectious disease specialist with over 30 years of experience who emphasizes the effect this new clinic will have on students looking to travel. 

“The travel clinic is for travelers who plan on going to, essentially, third world or developing countries. By definition, a third-world [developing] country is a country where the water is not reliable or safe to drink. So that in of itself kind of complicates everything with respect to safe eating and drinking,” Barnish said. 

A few examples of developing nations include Zimbabwe, Chad, Nepal, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Peru. Developing nations are not inherently unsafe. However, students who plan to enter developing countries, whether for study or pleasure, must be aware of the potential dangers. 

Barnish established the clinic when he came to Rowan, sharing his love for the job and travel with the students that he helps to treat and support. 

“What we do in the clinic is kind of counsel travelers on how to avoid risky food. The main reason people have trouble or problems going to these countries is that they get sick— they get diarrhea usually, or nausea and vomiting,” Barnish said. “Up to 72% of people who aren’t really careful or aren’t knowledgeable of what foods to avoid, get in trouble.”  

According to Barnish, by counseling students, the risk of contracting illnesses decreases because they are informed of the risks and possible avoidance 

“One of the purposes of the clinic is to tell people what to stay away from. So when you have tap water that’s not safe, anything that rinses with tap water is risky. Raw vegetables like lettuce, leafy greens and salads… Same thing with things you can’t peel like berries, tomatoes, and grapes. And obviously water,” Barnish said. 

With the success of the clinic in educating students on what to be aware of and how to avoid potential dangers, Dr. Barnish is looking forward to the future about what other programs RowanSOM can initiate to further aid students in their travels. 

“I would like to have it expanded so that I could branch into international medicine. Maybe set up a program for disaster relief or helping refugees,” Barnish said. “A nice expansion of the travel clinic would be to train people to do international medicine.”

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