Global health travel grant application cycle to open September 5

Adam Wise
August 28, 2023
Sierra Simmons (far right in purple), a recent MUSC College of Pharmacy graduate, earlier this year completed a project in Uganda. Simmons received a travel grant from the Center for Global Health to support her work. Submitted photo.

Medical University of South Carolina students and trainees will soon be able to apply for funding to support their global health fieldwork.

The MUSC Center for Global Health will open the fall application cycle for its student and trainee global health travel grants on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Providing funding of up to $2,000 to support international travel to low- and middle-income countries, the awards help recipients in furthering their global health service learning and training in an array of communities abroad.

Each year, the center typically receives dozens of applications for travel grants for projects that span colleges across campus, for fieldwork in countries like Kenya, Uzbekistan, Nicaragua and Tanzania, to name a few. The projects are orchestrated with various partnering organizations like Child Family Health International and Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.

2023-2024 Fall Application Cycle Dates & Deadlines:

Cycle open date: Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, at 5 p.m. EDT
Earliest anticipated award date: Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023

Sierra Simmons, Pharm.D., who graduated from the College of Pharmacy earlier this year, received a travel grant to complete a monthlong rotation with OneWorld Health this spring in Masindi, Uganda. Her rotation work consisted of patient care support at Masindi Kitara Medical Center as well as outreach work in surrounding communities. She said the experience left an indelible impression on her.

“During my time in Uganda, I experienced a different kind of world,” Simmons wrote in her travel reflection for the center. “It was the first time I was pushed out of my comfort zone and into a setting where everything was new and different. I began relearning things that I had known how to do my whole life. How to raise your eyebrows, murmur in agreement and nod your head while speaking to someone. Something as simple as a conversation with a stranger had a whole new set of rules I was unaware of.”

Onsite, Simmons watched as two physicians supported the entire facility. With no computers available, doctors used cell phones to access Ugandan guidelines to support patient care. Then, on days when she completed community outreach, Simmons would support a pharmacist in delivering patient and family education.

One patient in particular, a young girl, left a mark on Simmons. Her parents had received a multivitamin dropper to give to their child, however, they’d unknowingly administered the drops to her eye, causing her to go blind in one eye. Simmons taught the parents how to administer the drops properly.

“I was able to make a huge impact in patient education,” she said. “Taking time with each patient and helping them understand the importance of health care was vital. Instilling confidence by applying medications like eye drops or suspended medications allowed more connection through our interaction. Fathers and mothers were able to discern how to use a dropper that they may have never seen before.”

In all, Simmons said she saw more than 1,000 patients over the course of her outreach work.

To be considered for a travel grant, interested individuals must submit a proposal outlining the learning objectives they hope to achieve, and the activities planned while abroad and include a one-page personal essay about their motivation to pursue the global program, a budget, letters of support and a current resume. All individuals seeking a grant must plan to use the funds within a year of receiving the award.

In addition to the funds provided to support their travels, students and trainee grant recipients also have access to free resources from the University’s travel, health and security assistance provider, International SOS, as do all individuals traveling abroad while representing MUSC. The company offers 24/7 access to medical and travel assistance, emotional and mental health support and security advice while abroad.

Students and trainees are required to comply with the MUSC international travel policy, including requesting review and approval via the University’s travel registry.

With the fall application cycle quickly approaching, Simmons said individuals considering project work overseas will not regret the decision.

“I would say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you’re able to fit it in, you absolutely should,” Simmons said. “It makes you appreciate what we do so much more, and you see the value, and it makes you want to go back and do more.”

The deadline to apply for a travel grant during the fall application cycle is 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The anticipated earliest award notification date will be on Nov. 2. For more information regarding travel grants, please visit this website or email Center for Global Health executive director Kathleen Ellis.