Center for Global Health awards 10 travel grants to students and trainees

Adam Wise
November 30, 2023
John Bowman, a previous Center for Global Health student and trainee travel grant recipient, takes a selfie with his team while traveling in Uganda. Submitted photo

Today the Center for Global Health is pleased to announce the 10 recipients of its global health student and trainee travel grant awards.

The center offers MUSC students and resident trainees annual opportunities for international travel grants in low- and middle-income countries of up to $2,000 each. The goal of each award is to assist recipients in furthering their global health service learning and training in communities abroad.

This year’s student and trainee global health travel grant awardees, and the MUSC college programs they are representing, are:

Lehka Bapu, M.D.

  • College of Medicine, Emergency Medicine Resident
  • Project Title: St. Croix Emergency Medicine Clinical Experience
  • Location: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Project description: As part of a clinical rotation, Dr. Bapu will travel to St. Croix to work with the government medical center to gain perspective on the delivery of medical care in a rural, resource-limited setting. Her goal is to develop an understanding of the unique local culture and learn how to best communicate with local patients as a healthcare professional.

John Bowman

  • College of Medicine
  • Project Title: Developing Ultrasound-Guided IV Capacity in Rural Uganda
  • Location: Masindi, Uganda
  • Project description: Bowman will be supporting implementation of a training program on ultrasound-guided IV access for clinical officers in Masindi. He plans to implement a quality improvement program, administering pre- and post-lecture surveys to assess the medical staff’s knowledge about, and comfort with, performing ultrasound-guided IVs.

Joshua Brown

  • College of Health Professions, Occupational Therapy
  • Project Title: Supporting Rehabilitation in Madagascar
  • Location: Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Project description: Brown will travel to Madagascar to better understand the influence of culture on the occupational activities of the Malagasy people. He will also collaborate with local therapists to develop a pediatric Constraint Induced Movement Therapy to meet the unique needs of Malagasy children with hemiparesis, which is weakness on one side of the body.

Susan Dempsey

  • College of Health Professions, Occupational Therapy
  • Project Title: Juntos Podemos (Together We Can)
  • Location: León, Nicaragua
  • Project description: Dempsey will be implementing and distributing an online platform with resources for the teachers/staff of Niño Feliz, a Nicaraguan school for children with disabilities. The goal of the project is to make resources for teachers of special needs students more accessible in Latin America through the Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance theoretical framework.

Margaret Mahoney

  • College of Health Professions, Occupational Therapy
  • Project Title: The Development of a Parent-Mediated Intervention Toolkits/Resources for Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in La Paz, Bolivia
  • Location: La Paz, Bolivia
  • Project description: Mahoney will travel to Bolivia to learn about and consider the care and sensory needs of children with autism spectrum disorder. She will seek to develop evidence-based parent-mediated intervention toolkits and resources to support training of local personnel to enhance the quality of life of children with the disorder and their families.

Corey Mealer

  • College of Medicine
  • Project Title: Heart Block: Diagnosis and management education in resource-limited regions of Uganda
  • Location: Masindi, Uganda
  • Project description: While there is minimal data on heart block in Sub-Saharan Africa, there has been research conducted in Cameroon that has shown that patients diagnosed with heart block, but not treated appropriately, have a 45-56% mortality rate. While in Masindi, Mealer will support the creation of a curriculum for reading and interpreting electrocardiograms at the Masindi Kitara Hospital in Uganda to improve the identification of patients’ heart block and thus seeking to positively effect patient outcomes in country.

Melanie Miller, M.D.

  • College of Medicine, Pediatric Resident
  • Project Title: Global Health in Guatemala
  • Location: Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala
  • Project description: As a participant in a global health rotation at Hospitalito Atitlan in Guatemala, Dr. Miller will be participating in pediatric clinical care and helping with efforts to bring pediatric preventive care services to the small, non-profit medical facility. Hospitalito Atitlan serves more than 75,000 indigenous Mayan patients in the Guatemalan highlands, prioritizing women and children’s services with plans to expand pediatric services into the surrounding rural communities, which Dr. Miller will help support.

Morgan Pace

  • College of Health Professions, Doctorate of Occupational Therapy
  • Project Title: Mental Healthcare in Oaxaca, México: Understanding the Perspectives of Healthcare Providers and Clients to Improve Access to Mental Health Services
  • Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Project description: An occupational therapy student, Pace will travel to Oaxaca to explore how mental health providers and patients perceive the recommended treatment for mental health in the country. In Mexico, only 5 percent of people who have mental health disorders receive any form of care and treatment following diagnosis. Pace will help create educational resources to promote overall mental health awareness and lead group interventions to engage clients in important community activities and social engagement for patients.

Samantha Puckett, M.D.

  • Department of Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship
  • Project Title: Palliative Care Training in Low-Income Countries
  • Location: Eldoret, Kenya
  • Project description: Dr. Puckett, a hospice and palliative medicine fellow, will travel to Eldoret, Kenya for a training program with an in-country NGO dedicated to providing palliative care in Kenya. While there, she will shadow the local clinical team in the palliative care unit, in-patient hospice, and through home visits in the community, to understand their daily challenges and explore options for improvement. Through this program, she will learn more about the challenges of initiating and delivering palliative care in an under-resourced setting and gain an understanding of how local cultures and customs influence how patients and their families view suffering and end-of-life experiences.

Matthew (Austin) Thomas

  • College of Medicine
  • Project Title: Creation of an Atrial Fibrillation Screening, Diagnostic, and Management Protocol in a Rural Ugandan Hospital
  • Location: Masindi, Uganda
  • Project description: Thomas will travel to Masindi to help improve the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a cardiac condition that results in an irregular heart rhythm. His project will include development of educational content in electrocardiogram rhythm interpretation to accurately diagnose A-fib while supporting staff at the Masindi Kitara Hospital.

Earlier this fall, applicants were required to submit a cover page, project proposal, personal essay, program budget, three letters of support and their resume. Awardees must use the funds within the next 12 months.

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.

The Center for Global Health will open its spring application cycle for student and trainee travel grants on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. The deadline to apply for the spring cycle is Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, at 5 p.m. EST. For more information, including submission requirements, please click here.