Learning how to learn outside the classroom
Queen’s Office of Global Health (OGH) now offers a new pre-departure training program for students participating in healthcare placements locally and overseas. The program is designed to help them meet common challenges, from participating in healthcare service in low-resource settings, to living and working in a new culture and different language.
“Students and healthcare trainees are really interested in international and local training opportunities as a chance to help people around the world and in their own back yard,” says Jennifer Carpenter, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the co-director of education for OGH. “We wanted to help make these experiences safe and educational. There are also many ethical issues involved in visiting and providing healthcare service in a community.”
The pre-departure program has multiple components. Before leaving on placement, students complete readings and attend workshop sessions on personal health, travel safety, cultural awareness, language competencies, and ethical considerations—such as declining tasks they have not been trained for in their home country. They also consult with staff at the OGH to tailor their placements to individual learning objectives. Upon returning, students participate in a debriefing session to share their experiences with one another and discuss any difficult situations they faced.
Many interested students take the elective Global Health concentration program offered through the OGH. In the program, students undertake a healthcare placement and go through the pre-departure training as well as plan and participate in a lunchtime lecture series and participate in a local healthcare community project.
The OGH opened in 2010 with one of its many goals being to meet requests from medical students going on voluntary placements requesting additional resources and educational information. It is open to rehabilitation, nursing, and master of public health students as well.
The pre-departure training program is one part of the undergraduate medicine curriculum in global health, supported by Dr Carpenter, Dr. Karen Yeates, Co-Director, OGH, and Jessica Sleeth, Program Manager, OGH. Future endeavours of the OGH will involve a postgraduate global health curriculum and a strong focus on international partnerships and training of healthcare partners abroad.
Dr. Carpenter and Ms Sleeth will present tomorrow on the pre-departure training program at the Ontario Association of International Educators conference hosted by Queen’s and St. Lawrence College.