Medical biology student carries out medical mission in Bangladesh

Carina McAllister (Medical Biology, ’25) sorts through medical supplies on a medical mission in Bangladesh
Carina McAllister (Medical Biology, ’25) sorts through supplies on a medical mission in Bangladesh.

Some students go home for spring break. Others seek out more tropical jaunts — but not Carina McAllister.

McAllister (Medical Biology, ’25) spent her spring break in Bangladesh, where she attended a medical mission with Portland-based Partners for World Health (PWH).

The trip saw McAllister and several others take hundreds of pounds of medical supplies to various organizations in and around the capital of Dhaka and the central Tangail District, including the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as well as the Kandapara village and brothel.

The work was part of PWH’s aims to improve global health conditions by sending medical personnel and additional volunteers on missions to developing countries. Such medical missions are organized in partnership with local hospitals and clinics, delivering thousands of pounds of medical supplies and equipment to those in need.

In addition to toting medical supplies to the organizations, McAllister — who plans to work in a mental health specialty as a doctor — worked with a team of people in Kandapara to record their social histories.

The work is something McAllister will one day do when she graduates from UNE’s accelerated 3+4 medical biology program in medical sciences and, later, from UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM).

A nontraditional student, McAllister — a former international yoga instructor — hopes to make her mark in the medical world by championing a practice she calls “physio-psychiatry.” After struggles with addiction and trauma throughout her adolescence and subsequent recovery, McAllister now aims to empower people to deal with their own mental health challenges through the same method that helped her — movement — which played into her decision to study at UNE.

“The way I want to deal with mental health is through physical practices,” she said.

McAllister explained that a daily yoga routine helped her recover from addiction and other emotional pain, and she now intends to study at UNE COM and become familiar with osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) as a therapeutic approach to alleviate pain and promote healing.

“Moving people’s bodies provides a low-barrier approach to treating mental health, so that people who have geographical, socioeconomic, cultural, or religious barriers can still have access to their health care needs,” she said. “Mental health isn’t just a personal issue; it’s a global issue, and I think studying at UNE COM will work out well for me.”

Photos courtesy Carina McAllister and Partners for World Health.

A view of street life in Dhaka.

Street art in Bangladesh.