A world beyond Grey's Anatomy: Reflections from Ashley Hall students

Tackling HIV and diabetes in TanzaniaBattling Ebola on the front lines of West AfricaFighting global tobacco.  These aren’t the typical topics most high school students learn about in their ninth grade biology class.  But Allison Sill Bowden isn’t your typical teacher at Ashley Hall. “Our class is currently studying about bacterial and viral infections, but I was eager to expose my students to some of the most pressing health issues facing our world today,” said Bowden. What better way to than crossing the street to bring her class to the MUSC Global and Public Health Symposium to hear from experts in the field?  The 64 Ashley Hall students were full of questions, ideas and strategies after leaving the symposium.  “As we walked back to school, they were energized to help educate others, empower communities to solve these health issues. Several of the students told me that this further encourages them to become medical professionals,” said Bowden.  See what these inspiring Ashley Hall students had to say about the eye-opening insights they gained from spending the day at MUSC.

Gray Griffen:       As a student of the Ashley Hall and Charleston community I have always known that the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) was a local hospital that was also a college that trained physicians. When I went to the Global Health Symposium on a class field trip with my biology class and heard the lectures from the different doctors I was inspired. I have always been interested in a medical profession, but not having any immediate family members who are involved in profession I didn’t really know anything other than the general idea of what it means to be a doctor. Going to the Global Health Symposium and listening to the various presentations made me inspired to participate in helping other people and countries improve medical health, whether it be through research, improving transportation to hospitals, or getting better equipment for hospitals in poorer or more remote regions. This experience will definitely affect my career choice, changing it for the better. Thank you to all of the people who helped make this experience possible."

Carly Hill
:     When I was told we were going to a session sponsored by the Global Health Center, I had expected a lecture or class of sorts. However, the speakers did a remarkable job of incorporating the students in their topics and making sure that all the information presented to them was understandable. It was incredible to hear about the impact of cigarettes and the full consequences of their use. I had not grasped the full danger of tobacco before listening to Dr. Cummings’s speech. I also had not heard about the full extent of stroke especially in Nigeria and Ghana, but when I listened to Dr. Jenkins speak, it opened my eyes. I was also unfamiliar with Telemedicine, however, Dr. Summer was able to speak in such a way that enabled me to understand it and even praise it. Finally, hearing about the palliative care in India was astonishing and I hope that it is able to overcome the many obstacles and aid all those without it. The topics that I heard in the Global Health session had been strange and unfamiliar to me, but the speakers gave insightful, understandable, and fun speeches that made me want to help out in all of those situations they discussed and educate the public about them too. Thank you Global Health Center! 

Allyssa Noone:      
I felt very honored to be apart of the Global Health Symposium at MUSC. Sitting in the room along with medical students and other people proficient in the world of medicine, I felt like I was finally experiencing something real. It opened my mind up to a new field of medicine, which goes beyond making a living as a doctor or researcher in the United States. It centers around the genuine desire to help those who are not as fortunate as us. The passion in which fuels these speakers is really inspiring because you can see how much time and effort they have put into their projects to make a difference in the world. The work done by these professionals to improve the medical conditions and quality of treatment in less developed countries (like work with Telehealth and helping to improve programs that increase the comfort of those suffering from disease) has spurred me to become more interested in global issues. All the medical problems in other countries may never truly be gone, but they can certainly be improved. Without the leadership of people like the speakers I listened to, no advancements can be made. You can tell that the people who are involved in these programs genuinely care about the wellbeing of others. Overall, it was a great experience to see the actual change doctors are making to improve medical situations throughout the world.

Lucy Thornhill
:  I personally loved the field trip and believed that it was an opportunity I would not be able to get at any other school, and I appreciated how lucky I was to go. I also thought it was an experience that will make me more mindful and aware of the problems in other countries. I thought that the MUSC meetings were not only intelligent, but sparked an interest in me that I did not know I had. For example I would like to know more about the Kidney disease in Croatia and would love to get in contact with Ante Cvitkovic. I felt that the disease needs to be publicized, because it is killing many civilians in Croatia that do not have the correct medical supplies that are needed to cure the disease. I felt that even though I am a kid I would like to help the people in Croatia raise awareness so that they can find a cure. Also, I loved that I was treated like an adult and given the respect to ask questions even though some of the words were hard I still grasped the concept of the disease. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more! This field trip was by far one of my favorites and it was an eye opener for me, because I felt like I could someday be the person that finds the cure to the Kidney disease. I would like to give a special thanks to my wonderful Science teacher Mrs. Bowden for always putting our interests first and making it possible for the ninth grade Ashley Hall class go to MUSC!

Ava Gudzunas:    During this experience I learned what projects the MUSC doctors were working on around the world. It taught me about cancers related to smoking and where they are most abundant all the way to being able to have a doctor's appointment through an electronic screen. What intrigued me the most was the lack of doctors needed to treat illnesses where they are most present. This idea has never crossed my mind until it was mentioned at the Global Health Symposium. I have been thinking of this conflict ever since and have had multiple conversations about it with my parents. Being a student participant, I felt privileged to be able to sit and listen to their “adult conversations” that I could understand. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the room and just being able to listen, but I enjoyed the question times as well. Although I did not ask any questions, I was still actively listening. If I had stayed longer or had more time to think, I would probably have heaps of questions to ask. Going to the Global Health Symposium at MUSC has really inspired me to enter the medical field when I get older. It has also brought ideas of helping foreign countries and helping them medically.

Candice Drayton:  The topic that Dr. Ogle from Clemson University spoke about really interested me because she explained how a bacterial disease was noticed and how they did something about it to help decrease the amount of people that get Cholera in Haiti. I think it’s cool how something was done about it. In some cases an issue is constantly spoken about and nobody does anything to help it get better. But Dr. Ogle and her students educated themselves and did something about it and then shared it with us.

Katherine Mundy:    
On November 4, I was fortunate enough to attend the Global Health Symposium at MUSC on Global Surgery in Low-and Middle-Income Countries. Sitting in the front row in a room full of medical professionals with no knowledge of the field besides what I’d picked up through my Grey’s Anatomy obsession might have seemed intimidating. However, the presenting surgeons avidly included and welcomed the questions of us little ones at the front, making the symposium a life-changing experience. Hearing about the devastating conditions of the hospitals and medical equipment was not only heartbreaking, but truly emphasized the need for change. Dr. Sakran, Dr. Willis, Dr. Woolf and Dr. Hilton further inspired in me a passion to improve the access to medical care for those in developing countries and reminded me of the profoundness of an occupation in the medical field. I cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity to hear their stories.