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David Drozek, D.O. (’83)

Assistant Professor of Surgery, Department of Specialty Medicine

Interview by Susie Shutts

As an undergrad, David Drozek, D.O. (’83), traveled to Chad to volunteer at a mission hospital. The experience has shaped his medical career: he worked for seven years as a medical missionary in Honduras – where he will lead OU-COM’s first international surgery rotation this November. In the meantime, in April, he will accompany a group of OU-COM students to set up clinics in Ecuador, and in June, he will oversee clinical rotations in El Salvador.

As co-advisor of the OU-COM chapter of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), name one important topic you cover.

After training, physicians have up to $150,000 in debt, and then they get a nice salary. The tendency is to live up to their salary, and then they’re stuck in debt. They start to see patients as dollar signs. My encouragement to students is to live below their means. Make sure they have extra income and time to do mission trips, volunteer and take patients who don’t have insurance.

In one of your CMDA web site posts, you advocate “medicine as ministry – not means to ministry.” Can you explain that?

You can separate your practice from ministry and say, “Ok, this is my business. I make money here, and then I spend it on a trip to Honduras.” What I’m encouraging is for students to see their practice not as a business but as an opportunity to serve – especially here in Southeastern Ohio.

You advise volunteers who want to brings gifts for Honduran children to bring school supplies – in effort to avoid a “welfare mentality,” as you call it. Could you explain that?

Everybody looks like they’re in need from the North American perspective, but there are people with greater needs. In my experience, North American visitors tend to give indiscriminately and freely. After this goes on for a while, Hondurans just associate North Americans with Santa Claus, making it difficult to form an equal relationship.  

One of the turning points for my family was when we got horses for my daughter about four years ago. We knew nothing about taking care of horses, and at first it was entertainment for our neighbors to watch us struggle. I got kicked and thrown. The horses got loose; we chased them all over the place. Then the neighbors started helping us. All of a sudden, there was this equality. They had something we needed; it changed the relationship.

What’s your advice to students who might be considering a similar path?

Just don’t throw candy at people. Require that people give something in return for assistance. It preserves their dignity and helps them value what you give.


Medical students set up for a week of surgeries at Hospital Suizo

First international surgery rotation launched at OU-COM

David Drozek, D.O. (’83), teams up with Honduran hospital to give students hands-on experience

By Natalie Cammarata
March 21, 2008

The College of Osteopathic Medicine offers its first international surgery rotation this fall: a two-week clinical immersion in La Ceiba, Honduras. In November, Assistant Professor of Surgery David Drozek, D.O. (’83), will lead the first team of third and fourth-year OU-COM students to La Ceiba’s Hospital Suizo – a trip he’s been planning since he joined the college more than a year ago.

During the first week, students will perform about 25 surgeries at Hospital Suizo for patients wait-listed at the local government-sponsored hospital. Drozek explains that Hondurans unable to afford high fees at private hospitals typically wait months for treatment from government-sponsored hospitals.

“The hospital-based experience gives students a perspective on a foreign medical system. This is unlike other (OU-COM international) rotations that set up (temporary) clinics,” Drozek said.

During the second week, students will follow up with surgery patients and visit local health care facilities, as well as a medical school in San Pedro Sula. While there, OU-COM students will spend a day paired up with Honduran medical students.

Drozek lived in Honduras for seven years, where he worked with Hospital Suizo’s General Director Doris Eggenberger. Earlier this month, Eggenberger visited OU-COM and spoke at Irvine Hall to promote the college’s new partnership with Hospital Suizo. She recounted leaving her home in Switzerland to found Hospital Suizo in 2000 after experiencing the poverty-stricken health care system in Honduras many years before.

A lot of people don't have dreams or goals,” Eggenberger said. You just have to have one and do it. Hospital Suizo is part of a non-profit foundation that provides affordable care to Honduran families. Hospital Suizo’s procedures cost about half the price of private hospital fees, without the wait of government-sponsored hospitals.

Drozek hopes to take at least five students to Honduras this fall. There is currently no limit to how many students can go. Students accepted into the program must complete a brief cross-cultural orientation program. Participants receive two weeks of elective credit toward their third and fourth-year rotation requirements. For more information on Honduras Experience 2008, e-mail David Drozek at







The view above San Pedro Sula a city that participating student surgeons will
visit during their Honduras rotation in November.

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