Improving Medical Education, One Trip at a Time

Frank James, M.D. ’83, Res. ’87


When Frank James, M.D. ’83, Res. ’87, was hiking in a remote region of Nepal, he discovered more than just breathtaking mountains and verdant hillsides. He met an elderly woman suffering from a badly infected foot fracture. James did what he could: he cleaned the wound, reset the bone, splinted it and gave her the only antibiotics he had, which weren’t meant to treat her type of infection.

“I was pretty certain she wasn’t going to make it,” says James. “But four months later, she was back to digging in her garden. It’s experiences like this that keep me coming back.”

James, who serves as the health officer for the Nooksack Tribe and San Juan County and as the medical director for Travel Medicine Northwest, is also a clinical professor in the UW School of Public Health. Every year, he takes graduates and undergraduates to Nepal, India, East Timor and Taiwan to conduct service learning projects and explore international healthcare delivery. In addition, he has organized an exchange program between the UW School of Medicine and Yang Ming University School of Medicine in Taiwan, giving students the opportunity to do international training.

“These international experiences help students remember why they got into medicine in the first place,” says James. “It helps them stay true to those idealistic motivations of serving others.”