The 18 new residents selected for the Indiana University School of Medicine Global Health Pathway have connections to communities in Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mexico, Navajo Nation, Nigeria, Peru, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zambia and more.
Their life and medical experiences are varied, but they share a desire to improve care for people in underserved communities in Indiana and around the globe.
“One of the reasons why I ranked IU so highly was because I was extremely impressed with the global health department that was established here,” said Laxhmi Ramjit, DO, a resident specializing in neurodevelopmental disabilities. “My dream has always been to create my own project and give back to my family’s country, Guyana. I felt like this pathway would give me the tools and knowledge I need to make that difference in not only Guyana, but other countries around the world who struggle to access medical care.”
Family medicine resident Christian Mendez, MD, recalls becoming ill as a teen during a visit to his father’s rural family home in Mexico. “I wonder now, as I did that day, what happens when you become acutely ill? Or get into a trauma? Or worse still, how do people manage chronic conditions that we easily take care of here in the U.S.? I am interested in learning what I can do as a clinician to grow beyond my comfort zone and practice in a location somewhat reminiscent of where my dad grew up, where these resources I take for granted aren’t easily, or at all, available,” he continued.
For more than a decade, the global health pathway (formerly called the global health track), led by the Indiana University Center for Global Health Equity (IUCGHE), has helped medical residents from a variety of specialties better understand the social determinants of health including the economic, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to health and disease. The pathway, which began in 2011 as one of IU's first "tracks" for residents, is now one of five two-year co-curricular certificate programs.
Residents in the global health pathway meet quarterly to learn about global health issues and receive mentorship from IU faculty members with global health experience. Each resident completes either an international field elective or local-global health rotation as well as a scholarly project.
Jenny Baenziger, MD, associate director of education for the IUCGHE, is the coordinator of the global health pathway. She says that the skills and knowledge acquired through global or local-global experiences make the residents better doctors for all of their patients. “Recognizing and understanding the many factors that influence a person’s health is a critical skill for all physicians. Eliminating the barriers to health that exist for people, not only in low- and middle- income countries, but in communities across Indiana, requires physicians who have cultural humility, use resources strategically, and think creatively. These are all skills that the global health pathway helps residents acquire.”
IU’s global health initiatives have a specific focus on reciprocal innovation, the two-way development and sharing of a technology, methodology, or process between at least two countries to address a common health challenge and provide mutual benefit to both sides. Lessons learned are continually shared throughout the process to suit the needs and infrastructure of each country.
Global Health Track residents inducted spring 2023:
- Jenifer Akinduro (ob-gyn)
- Amanda Arand (internal medicine/neurology)
- Zachary Birner (emergency medicine)
- Alejandro Bolivar (family medicine)
- Thomas Cerri (internal medicine)
- Tanner Corse (med-peds)
- Melissa Cullom (plastic surgery)
- Theresa Emeli (internal medicine)
- Luis Guifarro (family medicine)
- Carolyn Haugh (internal medicine)
- Pauline Kamau (pediatrics)
- Christian Mendez (family medicine)
- Taylor Otto (pediatrics)
- Laxhmi Ramjit (neurodevelopmental disabilities
- Jared Stuart (internal medicine)
- Michael Weisman (radiation oncology)
- Mitchell Witkowski (pediatrics)
- Mariam Zelaya (family medicine)
Applications for the track are accepted each year in the spring. For more information contact Dr. Baenziger.
Many of the scholarly efforts from residents graduating from the pathway this year were showcased at Global Health Scholars Day.