New curriculum in global health

October 2, 2017

Increased globalization, the opportunity to learn about diseases in developing countries and caring for some of the world’s poorest people are among the reasons the College is offering a curriculum in global health for medical students and residents. “There’s a lot of interest in this area,” said Dr. Jane Weida, associate professor of Family Medicine and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency. As part of the two-year curriculum, students and residents meet at least once a month for presentations on global health topics, some of which will include tuberculosis, water and food safety, malaria, polio and ethics. Students and residents will also be required to spend two weeks working in a developing country. At the end of the two years, they will receive certification in Global Health. Weida provided information about the new curriculum during a recent lecture at the College, where she was joined by Dr. Catherine Scarbrough, assistant professor of Family Medicine and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, and residents Drs. Elizabeth Junkin and John Lundeen. All have traveled internationally to provide health care services and each spoke about their global health experiences. Dr. Elizabeth Junkin Junkin made trips in 2016 as a fourth-year medical student at the College to El Salvador and Honduras. In El Salvador, she and members of the church group she was with assisted at medical clinics and purchased medications with donated money – “Ibuprofen, anti-biotics, simple things, but these people don’t have access even to the simple things.” During her time in Honduras, she worked in a one-room clinic at a school, stitching wounds and removing toenails of children injured as they played flip flops. “The people there would wait for hours and hours to see us, just to get Tylenol. It’s always a very humbling experience,” Junkin said. “It makes you appreciate what you have.” Dr. John Lundeen Lundeen said his experience in Guatemala “was eye-opening. There was no clean or reliable water, food or health care for the people there.” He accompanied a group from his church that traveled to the country as part of the Hope of Life organization, which has a compound there with a water treatment and electricity plants, a school and a hospital. “Outside the compound was the most crushing poverty I’ve seen in my life,” Lundeen said. The American group set up a clinic in a school in the mountains where he helped treat everything from dog bites to malnutrition. The group also provided meals to the local residents “to try and minimize the suffering that way. There was never enough to go around,” he said. Dr. Catherine Scarbrough As a medical student, Scarbrough spent eight weeks in the mountains of northeast Thailand, and as a resident she spent four weeks in Niger and completed a surgery rotation in Central Asia. After her residency training, she spent 14 months as faculty at two different hospitals in Central Asia, where she provided care in family medicine, obstetrics and pediatrics and worked in clinic development and administration. For the last five years, she has made annual trips to Egypt where she has provided care in family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and provided teaching sessions and workshops. Dr. Jane Weida Wedia has made a number of trips to Haiti as part of Family Medicine Cares, a humanitarian program of the American Academy of Family Physicians that works to provide sustainable health care to underserved populations in the United States and throughout the world. She traveled to Haiti shortly after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 devastated the country, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. More than 100,000 people perished in the first 60 seconds of the earthquake, and rescue efforts were hampered by no electricity or cellular phone reception and hospitals overwhelmed with patients. Some 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed or severely damaged and tent cities struggled to accommodate more than 1.5 million people left homeless, a number that remained at 150,000 as late as 2014. “And seven years later, they’re still coping,” Weida said. She returned to Haiti in 2015 as part of Family Medicine Cares and the group divided into three teams to provide patient care, medical education and service projects. The patient care team treated between 500 and 600 patients. “People would walk for miles and miles and wait for hours and hours to see the doctor,” Weida said. The medical education team provided symposia on topics chosen by Haiti family medicine residency directors and met with officials the ministry of health and the US Embassy. The service team worked to improve the quality of life for children, painting schools and orphanages, donating balls, jump ropes, crayons, books and backpacks, and hosting parties.