International program aimed at improving global health systems

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State College of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences welcomed six students from China, Taiwan and the Netherlands to the Hershey campus for its two-week Penn State Global Health Exchange Partnership.

The program — in its second year — is a partnership between Penn State and international academic institutions with the goal of improving global health systems. It gives students an opportunity to explore public health systems worldwide, analyze cultural similarities and differences within health care, and yield effective ways to work together. 

“I like every part of it. For me, it’s all brand new,” said Jin Yeh, a Taiwanese student participating in this year’s program. Like Yeh, several of the students were visiting the U.S. for the first time, and the experience helped them expand their knowledge of global health issues. 

“I learned how health systems work in different countries and also the impact of health systems on the health of a country,” said Willemien Leyds, a participant from the Netherlands. 

“We want our public health graduate students to develop and experience a sense of global connection,” said Dr. Wenke Hwang, associate professor and director of the Master of Public Health Program at Penn State College of Medicine. “As part of the Global Health Exchange Partnership, we invite our international partners to send their students to our campus in Hershey. At the same time, our international partners host Penn State students on their campuses with guided-learning objectives.” 

The international students — majoring in public health, medicine and nutritional health — gained a better understanding of health care in the U.S. during their visit by touring facilities at the Medical Center, visiting simulation laboratories on campus, and interacting with legislators in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. As part of their final coursework, students prepared presentations highlighting comparisons of popular health care topics in the U.S. against those in their native countries. 

“Having meetings and lectures with professors and faculty really helped me to understand what a public health major is like in an American university, since I want to pursue my MPH in America after my graduation in China,” said Rui-shen Lyu. “The trip to D.C. inspired me a lot with different perspectives from the senators.” 

The international students weren’t the only ones grateful to participate in the unique learning experience. The exchange program proved eye-opening for local Penn State students as well. For this summer’s session, students from Penn State’s Master of Public Health Program joined the international group for the hands-on learning experience. “My favorite part was having conversations with other members about cultural differences and similarities,” said Michaelle Gabriel, a Penn State Health registered nurse and MPH student. “Doing this is a refreshing reminder that we are a global world.”

To learn more, visit http://med.psu.edu/phs. For more information on Penn State’s Global Health Exchange Partnership, visit http://med.psu.edu/public-health-mph or email globalhealth@phs.psu.edu.

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Last Updated August 23, 2017