Mary Frances Ross
: A professor of Clinical Practice who serves as a
preceptor for P4 students on their ambulatory care rotation at
the Family Health Center in Kalamazoo
: Her multiple visits have had different objectives,
from working in a medical clinic to leading delegations from
her church and serving as an international observer for
elections to participating in a clean water project.
“I guess my mission is to be in solidarity and walk with the
Salvadoran people, and to facilitate opportunities for others
to do the same,” she said.
: El Salvador
When Mary Frances Ross first visited El Salvador in 1995, she
didn’t speak a lick of Spanish.
She does now.
Ross initially traveled there to meet a high school student she
sponsored for three years as part of the Salvadoran Scholarship
Program at her church. She went with a delegation from
St. Thomas More Catholic Student Parish in Kalamazoo to
visit the young woman she had been corresponding with.
It was during a return visit to San Salvador in 1998, just
two weeks after Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc on Central
America, that her commitment to the country was cemented.
She was with another delegation to visit St. Tom’s sister parish,
Maria, Madre de los Pobres (Mary, Mother of the Poor), when
the pastor there suggested she stay.
Despite the language barrier, she agreed to spend the next two
years there, working in a small medical clinic that served only
Spanish-speaking residents in a poor area of the capital.
“The pastor there planted the idea, and I went with it,” Ross
said. “They had never had a ‘real’ pharmacist work in their
clinic pharmacy before.”
Ferris granted her a leave-of-absence, she sold her home and
her car, and five months later moved to San Salvador. She spent
a month studying the language, then went to work in the clinic
where no medications were labeled and they were dispensed in
“I had my work cut out for me,” she said.
Ross used a rubber stamp to make prescription labels and
spent much of her time counseling patients on prescription
use, including a blind man she taught to find his medications in
various pockets of his clothing.
Mary Frances Ross