By Megan Neltner, Andrea Gils
Four fourth-year medical students recently returned from their Family Medicine Primary Care Clerkship, which had a duration of four weeks at Mekelle University in Ethiopia.
“These are medical students who are going to go practice family medicine,” said Lori Davis, coordinator at the Office of Global Health Initiatives. “They are also in the international global health track.”
Davis said students had to take an Introduction to Health course and participated in various service activities.”
“Some of them have done other short-term global outreach, such as Shoulder to Shoulder,” Davis said. “Others have participated in the Global Health Case Competition. Others will attend different global health lectures, or they will do readings online that relate to global health to help satisfy some of that research education. Other service-related activities they might do is participate on the Global Health Advisory Committee.”
While at Mekelle University, students worked clinical hours, which allowed them to gain a different perspective about their fields, said Davis.
“Their role is to identify barriers and really appreciate how some of these folks with those limitations are able to get around those barriers,” Davis said. “It gives them an appreciation of how to really make due with limited resources as defined by our standards and it teaches them how to service poor environments.”
Davis discussed the challenging decisions that often have to be made in third world countries.
“There were some really difficult choices that they saw the medical professionals have to make between who lives and who dies,” Davis said. “Medical care is different in Ethiopia because you don’t necessarily have a semi-private room, they have a ward and families have to pretty much pay for food. If medications are lacking, then the doctors have to make a decision and assess ‘Should I give it to the person who I think is going to make it or to the one who I’m not sure about?’... So they make those types of serious life and death decisions.”
During the presentations the students gave an overview of the country and discussed the medical and health challenges that it faces.
“The fact that in even 2016 they still have barriers that keep healthcare from happening. Such as basic travel. The roads are unpaved, unmanageable, and very hard to get across the country,” Davis said. “However, they make due, the fact that they have any success is really a testament to their ingenuity.”