This past year, the WCHN/UVMCOM Global Health Program has grown immensely: organizationally, geographically, and ideologically.
Our partnerships have continued to strengthen. Human power has proliferated with the addition of several staff members including an associate director at UVM, two associate directors at WCHN, three departmental directors, two program coordinators, and three international site coordinators. Our network has broadened with the signing of Memorandums of Understanding initiating two new international partnerships in Uganda and two in the Dominican Republic. A partnership has also been initiated between our sites in Russia and the Dominican Republic. At the home front, the capacity building initiative has been expanded to include Norwalk Hospital and the Oncology Departments at Danbury Hospital and John Hopkins/LifeBridge Health.
Bidirectional exchanges have also continued to strengthen. WCHN been a host to many, including ten medical students/physicians for observership training and eleven distinguished guests for administrative visits. Reciprocally, our partners hosted thirty of our medical students/residents who completed global health electives under the supervision of twenty-one of our American faculty members. Meanwhile, Global Health Week in April, during which eleven international guests were hosted by and gave lectures to WCHN/UVMCOM, was a great success. The event further solidified our partnerships and commitment to global health by providing an important platform on which to learn from our partners and exchange ideas while promoting collaboration and solidarity among members, some of whom gathered for the first time. Awareness of global health and our program’s impact was heightened as open lectures were presented to students, faculty, and community members, and submissions to the Global Health Photo Contest were displayed in a gallery.
The global health program has taken on a greater presence at UVMCOM as global health topics have been further integrated into the medical curriculum in the form of grand rounds, noon conferences, and Global Health Bridge Week during which the topic of human trafficking was introduced to the medical students for the first time, and simulation labs were utilized as educational tools in global health as part of the motion toward interactive learning. Beyond global health curriculum, we have optimized all aspects of our global health electives by refining our selection process, pre-departure training, orientation sessions, curriculum while abroad, and post-return debriefings, in addition to designing site-specific safety guides and protocols. A new homestay model was established in the Dominican Republic, while an additional homestay model was established in Uganda.
We have released four peer reviewed publications, in addition to a monthly newsletter, a program website complete with online tropical medicine modules, and a booklet of global health reflections and photos from this past year’s elective participants. Meanwhile, we have emboldened our commitment to combatting the major global outbreaks of HIV, Ebola, and Zika virus through television health programs, radio shows, newspapers, grand rounds, and public talks.
We look forward to further expanding our program this upcoming year by initiating a partnership in Cuba as a global health elective site. We will also be working toward instating an advanced curriculum in global health as well as a full track/specialization that will incorporate global health curriculum in all years of medical training, for students seeking more robust avenue for and involvement in the field.
We are honored to bear witness to the burgeoning global health movement and passion for health equity in our communities, and are grateful to be part of the ever growing network.