New global health course offers hands-on experience to future physicians

The next generation of physicians have an expanded global health perspective, thanks to a newly developed course.

As part of the Amsterdam University Medical Centers’ (Amsterdam UMC) Bachelor of Medicine program, a group of second-year students spent the last 12 weeks learning about global health and public health through the Global Health in Action elective track. It’s the first time the course is being offered.

Developed by the Department of Global Health at the Amsterdam UMC in collaboration with the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), the Global Health in Action track was led by Anja van’t Hoog, AIGHD academic staff.

The students ended the course with a four-week block that offered unique, hands-on learning experiences: the students visited local global health-focused organizations, had the opportunity to interview senior global health leaders and get insight into potential future career paths. As their last assignment, they used their newfound knowledge to put together a formal poster presentation based on a global health-themed research project they developed on their own.

The posters were presented on the last day of the course to Anja, Prof. Frank Cobelens, Chair of the AIGHD Executive Board and Victor Ssempijja, PhD candidate from Uganda. The students were required to explain their projects and take five minutes of questions from the facilitators and their peers. They also received feedback they can apply to future presentations.

“The final assignment closely resembles a format the students will encounter at future conferences and the our hope is that the experience has helped build their confidence and interest to move forward in their career as global health researchers and physicians,” said Anja.

Though the course itself was just 12 weeks, the impact for the students is long-lasting.

“I chose this course because I have Indian roots and at an early age, I saw the differences in our health care systems and was very interested in global health. When I saw that this course was being offered, I knew I had to take it,” said Vibuthi Sisodia, one of the students in the course.

“In terms of my future, the course taught us a lot of important skills like how to pitch a project. I also learned a person’s culture is very important in terms of how they might take your advice and how they behave so it’s always something to keep in mind.”

The program was divided into three tracks: 10 students who are part of the course applied for and were selected to go to Sri Lanka for the last four weeks and wrapped up last Friday; the remaining students pursued the public health track through the Amsterdam University Medical Centers Department of Public Health.

The global health elective course will be evaluated by the students to ensure its ongoing success for future cohorts.