Trends in Global Health Education: UT Health Science Center, San Antonio

UT Health Science Center, San Antonio Houses Global Health in the Center for Ethics

It’s interesting to consider where a university or medical school chooses to house their Global Health efforts and how this affects the focus and framework of global health activities.  I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing from Ruth Berggren MD, Director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. We met at the NAFSA Colloquium on the Internationalization of Medical and Public Health Schools.

At the UT Health Science Center, global health is structured within the ethics center.  Berggren explained how she conceptualizes of the fundamental global health knowledge base as being one of of ethics, critical thinking and an astute grasp of collaboration- with knowledge of infectious disease, chronic disease management, epidemiology and other medical topics as really being secondary building blocks of a core competency in ethics.  This is all coming from an infectious disease specialist!

Dr. Ruth Berggren

I believe UT Health Science Center should be commended for this programmatic structure and important recognition.  Child Family Health International (CFHI)  has long realized that global health education first needs to start with the world changing the student, rather than the student attempting to change the world.  This change is realized through immersion and educational experiences that breed humility, professionalism, and cultural competency. We hope through CFHI programs and others that share our beliefs that change culminates with an understanding that local practitioners, patients, and communities (rather than Westerners) are the experts in global health—with Westerners hopefully learning enough to be gracious partners, supporters and admirers of the resourcefulness that exists in so-called ‘low-resource’ settings.

Where does global health fit in at your school or alma mater? What do you believe is  essential knowledge for students pursuing global health work abroad? Leave your comments below!

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