Center for Global Health Awards Student Travel Grants for Global Research and Fieldwork

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Global fieldwork and research offers perspective-shaping experiences for health care professional students.  Demand for global electives is growing rapidly as students nationwide share that these experiences are often a defining moment in their training.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Global Health recognizes the significance of giving students the opportunity to expand their clinical skills abroad, and in response to the increasing demand has created a Travel Grant Program, awarding five students and one resident grants of $2,000 each to support research and fieldwork in Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti and Tanzania.

Cameron Bell, College of Medicine 2016, will be traveling to Ghana with Project Okurase to participate in a Village Health Outreach (VHO) program to help meet the needs of a local village community. Most of his time will be spent immersed in all aspects of village life to better understand the needs of the community and learning how to appropriately address them. Bell is excited about contributing sustainable medical knowledge to the Ghanaian villagers and, in return, the lessons he’ll bring back to MUSC.

“It’s very different in America,” said Bell. “In the village, there will be no MRI. We have to rely on our own skills. Overall I want a bigger picture of global health, and to apply those lessons to my future practice.”

Geoff Bloomquist, College of Dental Medicine 2014, plans to provide dental care to underprivileged areas of Ecuador. As part of the Dental Community Fellowship at MUSC, Bloomquist will be working with other health professionals to treat patients’ overall health while expanding his cultural awareness and cross cultural communication skills.

Catherine Foster, a pediatrics resident at MUSC, will travel to Arusha, Tanzania for a one-month rotation. Foster will facilitate an exchange of medical knowledge between MUSC and Arusha Lutheran Medical Center through use of telemedicine and will develop a Pediatric Grand Rounds from her experience in Tanzania.

She also plans to gain experience in the diagnosis and management of diseases such as respiratory infections/pneumonia, meningitis, diarrheal illnesses, malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

“I look forward to the opportunity to manage routine pediatric diagnoses while being cognizant of local cultural practices and learning how to provide appropriate treatments and/or interventions given resource constraints,” said Foster. “This will be beneficial as I choose a career path which is closely linked with building international medical partnerships.”

In a rural Ghanaian village this summer, Sarah Logan, College of Graduate Studies 2013, will be assisting Ghanaian health professionals plan and implement a Village Health Outreach (VHO) program through Project Okurase. Logan will be implementing a data collection form and integrated data entry system on-site to further develop analytical skills as evidenced by an accurate summary report of the activities at the VHO.

Ruwan Ratnayake, College of Medicine 2014, will head to Haydom Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania this February to gain knowledge in perioperative methodologies. Ratnayake will be working with a local non-profit organization to help increase self-sufficiency and sustainability. His goal is to bring back a fundamental understanding of diseases affecting spine related care and valuable knowledge of a training-forward teaching program.

Sara Winn, College of Medicine 2014, traveled to Thomonde, Haiti this summer to examine and interview patients in a five-day mobile health clinic. Winn completed this program through MUSC Service Learners International, an organization established by medical students to promote student-driven global health trips. While in Haiti, Winn gained experience on the basics of coordinating, planning and designing an effective medical volunteer program. She was also able to gain exposure to a new health system that improved her understanding of global health by treating prevailing chronic and infectious diseases in the developing world.

“We were able to work with medical personnel who are very passionate about what they are doing,” said Winn. “You’re providing care in a rural area, where resources are limited. The greatest lesson we continue to learn is that you can do a lot with a little, especially when your passions are focused.”