Local students, AIGHD education team head to Sri Lanka for unique global health course

A new course seeks to inspire the next generation of physicians by providing them with a unique global health experience.

Ten Bachelor of Medicine students from the Amsterdam Medical Centre (AMC), along with students from Duke University and the University of Ruhuna, headed to Sri Lanka last week for four weeks of education and field visits to local clinics and sites.

The elective course, Global Health in Context: Sri Lanka, has been under development for the past 18 months and is the only second-year course in the AMC Bachelor of Medicine program that offers a learning abroad opportunity.

By observing health and health care in a low-resource setting, the course adds a unique perspective to students’ global health learning.

“We can teach certain lessons in a classroom and show videos, but it’s a completely different learning experience when the students are able to see the environment firsthand,” said Guus ten Asbroek, coordinator for the course and education coordinator at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development.

“The goal is to provide the group with a unique learning opportunity and ultimately, deepen their understanding of and passion for global health as they work together in an international team to discuss problems and possible solutions from a broader perspective.”

The course is a unique collaboration between the three universities: AMC; Duke University in South Carolina; and the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka.

The selection process for students included a formal application, essay and interview. Costs associated with the 10 local Netherlands students have been generously subsidized through a bursary from the Academic Medical Center Foundation.

“For me, reading about global health and attending lectures about it has been very interesting so far, but I think that actually being there and seeing everything with my own eyes, will have the most impact,” said Durga Vishwakarma, an aspiring global health physician and one of the 10 local Netherlands students selected as part of the inaugural course.

“I hope to really experience everything; see what the health system is like and mainly, see how it works for people and how it affects them.”

Leading up to the departure, the students completed eight weeks of classroom teaching and group work in global health topics together with other elective students.  Specific preparation for the course in Sri Lanka included attending Skype meetings with their fellow students at Duke University. The course will be evaluated upon completion of the trip to Sri Lanka.

“Students’ feedback will play an important role in determining the course’s success,” added Guus, who is in Sri Lanka with the students. “Our goal is to be able to offer this impactful and unique learning abroad elective course every year to a group of selected AMC medical students interested in global health.”

Read more about the collaboration.