The University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZCHS) and University of Vermont have a Global Health Collaboration facilitated via Dr. Majid Sadigh, Global Health Director, at Danbury Hospital, Western Connecticut Healthcare Network. Through this partnership, we look forward to various collaborations which will enable both our UZCHS and UVM students to experience working in environments unlike their primary training sites. UZCHS students take at least a month off between their fourth and fifth or final year to do an "elective visit" wherever they choose to go. The main goals of these elective visits are to allow our students to appreciate healthcare delivery in various settings and hence reflect on their own training. The Global health program with Danbury Hospital, a teaching site for the University of Vermont, hopes to provide cultural competency of students and faculty from both countries as they experience more than just a clinical rotation.
UVM senior medical students, Adam Ackerman and Peter Cooch, visited UZCHS for six weeks in January 2014, attached to our Orthopaedic and Pediatrics wards respectively. Through their Microscope Exchange Program, they delivered a 5-head teaching microscope to our College.
In May 2014, Prof Chidzonga (Dean) and Dr Chiratidzo Ndhlovu (Deputy Dean) visited UVM and Danbury Hospital to explore new ideas with our partners in this Global Health exchange program.
Although we have always offered a month-long elective visit to our students just before they enter their final year of medical training, arrangements have been left to the individual students and therefore the objectives were not well structured. By having a link with UVM and Danbury, we can formalize the experience for students and faculty from both sides so that both benefit and the visits are not viewed as medical tourism. We hope all participants will reflect on their experience and on the global nature of diseases in general, as well as noting that even when material resources are limited, there are other benefits that a healthcare worker can provide to their patient, even if just empathy and compassion.
Given our partners' strengths in medical education as evidenced by their clinical skills training laboratory and faculty like Dr. William Jeffries and his book on Medical Education, UZCHS will be able to tap into this strength at a time when we are reviewing our curriculum and improving our quality of training. We also look forward to the debate and cross-fertilization of ideas on the ethics of providing care in such vastly different resource settings. We also note that the University of Vermont is in a "green state" with use of renewable resources highly visible, and this networking could easily be extended beyond medicine. Not only will our collaboration involve exchange at the clinical level setting, there is ample opportunity for research and teaching collaboration.