Over the last few years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of residency applicants at Children’s Medical Center interested in global health – whether they plan to pursue international involvement as a career or a single short-term trip.
Whichever they choose, we think it’s important to educate residents and prepare them for this work so that it can be completed in an ethical, culturally relevant and sustainable manner.The residency program here at Children’s has developed a wide variety of educational opportunities that target this need.
Now Rachel Jamison, M.D., one of the three Co-Chief Residents for the UT Southwestern Pediatrics Residency Training Program at Children’s Medical Center this past year, shares some of her firsthand experiences providing care abroad.
From Humble Beginnings
Our Global Health Program started small with a global health interest group that met about four times per year and consisted of a handful of residents and faculty members.
Today, that small but dedicated group has grown to include medical students and guest speakers. We now meet every other month to discuss topics like tropical disease, ethical considerations surrounding short-term involvement abroad and educational initiatives overseas.
Our approach to international involvement has been small-batch, individualized and purposeful. While we have several locations where we send residents over and over, we have also opened up the possibilities by allowing residents to create their own away electives in a location that meets their educational goals and suits their interests – whether that be a particular country, disease process, culture or language.
So far, we have sent residents to more than 15 countries, and one of our main goals is to make sure they are able to have a good experience that benefits both their own education as well as the medical system in which they work. To do this, we have focused on pre-trip preparation and post-trip debriefing.
Making Every Trip a Success
Before residents leave, they are required to go through a substantial application and orientation process that involves thinking through diseases and ethical issues they might encounter and reading to educate themselves on such topics.
They meet with a chief resident and the global health faculty advisor to go over logistical details, safety tips and to prepare a plan for a “lasting impact project” – a project that can be anything from an educational initiative to research or equipment donations.
Most recently, we had two second-year residents go to Peru where they taught local midwives and nurses how to perform effective neonatal resuscitation. They completed a research project to measure the success of the education and are hoping to publish their results.
The Dallas Global Health Elective
The other way residents prepare themselves to go on an international elective is through the Dallas Global Health Elective – a two- to four-week rotation completed here at Children’s. When overseas, physicians are often forced to provide care without the assistance of ancillary staff.
Since traditional residency education does not provide this type of training, we created an elective to equip residents with the knowledge and skills needed to provide holistic care in resource-poor settings.
Residents work within various departments – respiratory therapy, speech/occupational/physical therapy, pharmacy, microbiology, lactation, wound care, burn unit, etc. – to learn how to complete the tasks typically provided by these team members.
We are also creating an online curriculum that covers topics ranging from infectious diseases encountered abroad to mental health, refugee health care, human trafficking and oral rehydration solution. The long-term goal is that residents would complete this training before they go, have access to it for reminders while they are on their away rotations and use it to train local medical personnel in the international hospitals and clinics where they serve.
How Can I Join the Global Health Program?
Our Global Health Program has come a long way in four years, and we are proud of what our residents are doing both here and across the globe. We hope we will continue to see advancement of our efforts and expansion of the Global Health Program.
You can learn more about the Global Health Program and the Pediatric Residency Program as a whole. For those of you who have an interest in either educating residents about global health or going on a trip to one of our sites with residents, email Dr. Rachel Jamison or Dr. Courtney Baldridge for more information.