Student electives play an important role in global health.
Students are more eager than ever to go abroad and develop their learning and help people in resource poor countries. With them comes great energy, sharing of new knowledge and fresh ideas.
With more students with diverse backgrounds entering healthcare education, students are now more than ever playing a vital role to contributing to global health. Medi Trip Volunteers was an idea founded by a nursing student as an idea to innovate the medical volunteer realm. Often described as a "difficult" or "hard" area to engage in with many ethical and practical issues. Understandable, being that a student is faced with a mixture of sensory and culture shock, as well as having to work in a new system. However, the healthcare student of 2017 is a different breed to yesteryear and yearns for a richer experience as many experience multiculturalism and diversity throughout their lives.
Volunteers have questionably been regarded as a drain on time and resources to their host communities, without making much impact.However, as we've seen with our own students, healthcare volunteers are quite the opposite. More importantly, students on electives offer fresh ideas, innovation and new energy. They desire to do more and to see more of the world, taking their skills with them. They have proven time again, that with them comes innovative ideas, sharing of advanced and new knowledge. As they discover their own new learning, they also learn to integrate, gain deep fondness and respect for their new host community. To over emphasise their "lack of experience and credentials", discredits the skill sets already acquired in training and motivation that brought them to the field in the first place.
"They have proven time again, that with them comes innovative ideas, sharing of advanced and new knowledge."
We feel, what's important is instilling a deep sense of respect of local culture and social responsibility to be fostered into students before they land at their destination. This is not to negate the importance of informative preparation prior to participation. What we feel takes precedence, is gaining a respect and sense of local engagement with their host community at the start. Once this is established, we begin to see bridges being built where students not only learn from their hosts but can effectively contribute to patient care.
"These are not the bumbling, doe eyed, naive or unskilled students popular belief has portrayed them to be, in cynicism."
Most students in training today are fortunate enough to come from resource rich institutions, where global health will be in some way a part of their curriculum and wouldn't normally be offered an international elective beyond 2nd or 3rd year with strict academic guidelines. These are not the bumbling, doe eyed, naive, or unskilled students popular belief has portrayed them to be in cynicism. These are trainees who have completed hundreds of hours of practical training with direct patient contact and several lectures on global health concepts.
"if we hope to develop health leaders of tomorrow, we need to encourage the notion of inter-cultural exchange and global mobilisation of our students today."
Students play hugely important role in impacting global health. Right at their pinnacle of learning, they contribute to fresh thinking and reinvigorate the motivation for improving health inequalities. As they graduate into their official roles, they have already become global citizens and developed a broader view through their elective experiences. This is hugely important if we hope to develop health leaders of tomorrow, we need to encourage the notion of inter-cultural exchange and global mobilisation of our students today.