From Abby: Happy New Year!

Happy 2011, everyone!  I thought I’d start out the new year by giving you a little more background on me and my experiences in the world of global health.  I’m a 4th year medical student at Ohio State this year, and I will graduate in June with both my MD and my MPH (Master’s of Public Health).  I plan to pursue a career in family medicine, with a significant focus on global health.  My passion lies in creating sustainable, long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships between western medical professionals and institutions and communities and healthcare systems in developing countries.  Thus far, the focus of my international work has been in Ethiopia, where I’m heavily involved with an organization that supports orphans with HIV/AIDS.  (If you’d like to learn more about AHOPE, please visit our website at www.ahopeforchildren.org.)  I’ve also traveled to Honduras a few times on different medical volunteer trips.  My trip to St. Albert’s this spring will be my first time traveling to Zimbabwe, and I am so excited to be there in just a few months!

While I’m at St. Albert’s, I’ll be completing both a clinical rotation and the research for my MPH thesis.  My project will be to conduct a community health assessment using Photovoice, a form of community based participatory research in which we’ll give each participant a camera and ask him or her to document the health needs and issues in the community through photography.  Once the photos are available, then we have the participants discuss them in one-on-one interviews and in a group setting as well.  With the help of photography, a lot of deeper issues have the potential to be uncovered, and involving the community so completely in the project allows them to really take ownership of it and hopefully, begin to brainstorm about solutions to the problems they identify.  If you’d like to read more about Photovoice, I’d encourage you to take a look at Dr. Caroline Wang’s work.  You can start here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9158980

I’ll also be completing a clinical rotation while I’m at St. Albert’s, helping out Dr. Tarira and her staff on the wards.  St. Albert’s, as you know, sees a full spectrum of patient care, from maternal and child health to adult medicine to surgery.  I am really excited that this will be my very last rotation of medical school before I graduate, so that I can bring the full complement of everything I’ve learned over the last 4 years to put into practice there.  We are also hoping that my rotation at St. Albert’s will be the beginning of a partnership between Ohio State and St. Albert’s.  Hopefully, other senior medical students will follow my path in years to come, creating a more sustainable commitment to having some extra help around the hospital on a much more frequent basis.

Through this blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences of preparing for a trip to sub-Saharan Africa, and then of course my daily experiences while I’m at St. Albert’s.  I’ll also hope to be sharing my student’s perspective on global health issues, and the challenges inherent in wanting to pursue volunteering abroad while simultaneously still needing to complete our medical education here.  I’m of course just one person, and my opinions are simply my own.  But hopefully, we’ll be able to generate a good dialogue and of course, raise more awareness about St. Albert’s in the process!

Thanks for reading, and please check back often for updates.

Peace,

Abby

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