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Global Health program welcomes new physicians

Ruben Hernandez

Indiana University’s unique global health education program welcomed a new group of physicians with aspirations to care for patients in a variety of resource-limited settings around the world.

This spring, 19 medical residents joined the Indiana University School of Medicine Interdepartmental Global Health Residency Track coordinated by the Indiana University Center for Global Health.

IU’s Interdepartmental Global Health Residency Track began in 2011 and is unique in welcoming residents from a variety of specialties to join together to better understand the social, economic, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to health and disease throughout the world. The program equips residents to address health disparities and encourages long-term commitment to global health issues domestically and internationally.

“They are an amazing group of trainees and have inspired and impressed me with their experience, passion, goals, and compassion for people around the world,” said Jenny Baenziger, MD, assistant director of education for the IU Center for Global Health and coordinator of the global health track. “Each one has unique gifts and personal assets that they to bring to this experience. For example, several are children of immigrants, many have earned master of public health degrees, one was a Fulbright scholar, they speak a myriad of languages, and all have demonstrated a desire to help people across the globe have access to healthcare,” she continued.

new residents talk excitedly

Selected residents participate in quarterly half-day conferences and receive mentorship by faculty members with extensive global health experience. They complete a scholarly project and either an international field elective or local global health rotation. Many participants complete their field experience at the AMPATH partnership in Eldoret, Kenya. IU School of Medicine has established an expertise in global health and began the partnership in Kenya more than 30 years ago.

Amy Dursteler, MD, is the first radiation oncology resident to participate in the global health track. Previous experiences in Ghana, Panama and Guatemala nurtured Dursteler’s interest in practicing oncology in a global setting. “The global burden of cancer continues to grow and more recently radiation oncologists have been more involved in partnerships with low- and middle-income countries to help to bring newer technologies to these countries,” she said. “After coming to IU, I heard about the AMPATH program and Dr. (Pat) Loehrer’s involvement. The emphasis on sustainability and education in the development of that program appeals to me,” she continued.

Several of the residents selected for the global health track already have international research experience in addition to clinical experience. Obstetrics and gynecology resident Jessica Li, MD, MSc, earned a master’s degree in clinical research while in medical school. Her thesis analyzed long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) use among single, sexually active women in urban regions of Zambia. “My research abroad demonstrated an immense global need for family planning and for women’s health providers in general,” she said. “The mentorship during the global health track will assist me in determining how to incorporate global health throughout my career and plug me into a network of physicians with the same research interests and goals,” Li continued.

New residents listen to a presenter at a recent half-day conference

Similarly, medicine and pediatric resident Don Sim, MD, MPH, sees global health as an opportunity to transition his experience as a Fulbright scholar to a career as a physician-scientist. Last fall he had the opportunity to attend one of the global health half-day meetings. “I found myself thoroughly invested in the discussions and was genuinely intrigued and excited by the stories that my senior colleagues had to share,” he recalls. “After the meeting I really thought I found the missing link in my career as a young researcher and physician,” he continued.

The new residents in the track will join the classes ahead of them to make 71 residents and fellows participating in the global health track. More than 83 have completed the track, including eight last May. Participants in the track will share their scholarly projects during a virtual Global Health Scholars Day on May 7. Poster will be available on the IU Center for Global Health website for review and comment and live presentations will occur from 5-6 p.m.

Global Health Track residents inducted spring 2020:

  • Maria Abou Nader (pediatrics)
  • Angela Amangimpong (pediatrics)
  • Chris Bosma (medicine-pediatrics)
  • Craig Bullington (internal medicine)
  • Katie Carson (family medicine)
  • Tanya Costa (family medicine)
  • Tarek Dabboussi (family medicine)
  • Amy Dursteler(radiation-oncology)
  • Claire Edelman (obstetrics/gynecology)
  • Lauren Ford (family medicine)
  • Amy Hanson (pediatrics)
  • Morgan Johnson (medicine-pediatrics)
  • Jessica Li (obstetrics/gynecology)
  • Nicole Lopez Perez (pediatrics)
  • Alison Mueller (pediatrics)
  • Michelle Nguyen (family medicine)
  • "Mimi" (Mirian) Okoye (family medicine)
  • Ishani Shah (medicine-pediatrics)
  • Don Sim (medicine-pediatrics)

Application for the track are accepted each year in January. For more information contact Dr. Baenziger.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Author

Debbie Ungar

Communications Manager

As communications manager for the IU Center for Global Health and AMPATH, Debbie shares stories about the university's partnerships to improve health care in Kenya and around the world. Contact her at 317-278-0827 or debungar@iu.edu.