MUSC students reflect on CFHI virtual exchange 

Center for Global Health
October 08, 2021

The current COVID-19 pandemic has limited the possibility of global travel and educational exchange. The increasing use of technology in areas such as telemedicine and virtual education has provided more opportunities for students to acquire a greater understanding of global health.

Two fourth-year students in the MUSC College of Medicine reflect on participating in the Child Health Family International first-ever virtual global health elective. Students' participation in these electives was funded through grants from the MUSC Center for Global Health. Learn more about the MUSC and Child Family Health International partnership.

Mahvash Husain, College of Medicine

Mahvash Husain Headshot

My name is Mahvash Husain. I was born in India but moved to the USA when I was 3 years old. I have always had a passion for giving back to the community and learning about new diseases which is why I chose to apply to medical school. I actively seek out opportunities that help me expand not only my medical knowledge but also my practical knowledge and thinking. My goal is to give back to the global community and engage as a global citizen.

Child family health international is a non-profit organization with multiple clinics throughout the world. They have partners at these clinics with local doctors and nurses that help support the community and their individual needs. I had the unique privilege to attend one of these clinics in the foothills of the Himalayas in India in 2015. It was an eye-opening experience that helped confirm my desire to pursue global health. It inspired me to continue my education and learn more about global health and how I can make a difference in the global community.

I was grateful to receive funding through MUSC Center for Global Health to take this elective as a fourth-year medical student even during a pandemic. The current COVID-19 situation has forced virtual learning to be at the center of medical education. The majority of learning has been transferred online and universities have taken on the challenge to still engage students for the learning opportunities. The leaders and teachers of this rotation did an amazing job of fostering that collaborative environment virtually. I learned a lot about resource allocation in third-world countries and how to approach problems differently with limited access. The types of questions and thought processes that have to be used are completely different which was an amazing learning opportunity. I also learned about medical ethics, global health principles and ethics, different health systems, and planetary health. After completing this rotation I have gained more skills and resources to help make an active impact on the global community and I hope I will have the opportunity to do so in the future.

Samuel Jones, College of Medicine

Samuel Jones Headshot

During my fourth year of medical school, I participated in Child Family Health International’s first virtual global health elective. This course was an introduction to key concepts in global health and delved into how they could be applied to a clinical career. During the elective, my classmates and I learned from physicians around the world about their perspectives on global health. We delved into topics such as clinical ethics, climate change and planetary health, health disparities, and community-based learning. We learned directly about community projects that were occurring in the focus country of Ghana. Further, we worked in small groups to reflect upon and further explore some of the issues, projects, solutions, and roadblocks that would be encountered during global health work. It was an incredible asset to work with students from across the world and gain their diverse perspectives on a multitude of global and public health issues. A sizable portion of my cohort were medical students from Costa Rica and Kenya. Though it would have been amazing to participate in an in-country experience, I appreciated the ability to gather the perspective of clinicians across the world utilizing the virtual platform.

I chose to participate in this elective because I had a sincere interest in global health, but I recognized that I did not know much about it. I was a Spanish major in college and have always sought out opportunities to travel and learn more about other cultures. Further, I am interested in a career in academic neurology. As education will hopefully be a part of my future career, it is my desire to develop a new program in Central America to improve neurologic outcomes, training in neurologic disease, and delivery of care in this area. I knew this elective would equip me with global health knowledge and perspectives that I had not previously considered that would help me to accomplish this goal.

The month I spent on this elective was incredibly educational. I feel as if I am now not only competent in my ability to understand important concepts in global health, but also to share them with my colleagues as I progress in my career. I truly gained unique perspectives on health that I had not previously considered. One key concept that I hope to implement into my future clinical practice is the concept of planetary health. I participated in a seminar series led by a physician from the Philippines who introduced the concepts of how climate change and sustainable practices have important and measurable outcomes on population health. It was interesting to consider that advocating to your patients about concepts like decreasing carbon emissions, adopting a plant-based diet, and recycling could not only improve both their personal health and the health of the general population.

My experience working with our community partner in Ghana was also a riveting experience. We learned through primary resources and media the problems that Ghana is facing regarding healthcare delivery and accessibility. I had the opportunity to participate in many discussions regarding ways to design projects and initiatives that could objectively improve health outcomes in countries like Ghana. I personally improved in my ability to design global and public health projects that are feasible and sustainable, as well as consider the difficulties that will be encountered during their implementation. Finally, I gained great perspectives on topics in clinical ethics and global health that I had not previously considered, such as the importance of asset-based community development in global health.