College of Medicine students get up-close look at global health challenges

HERSHEY, Pa. — Three graduate students from Penn State College of Medicine’s Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health programs will spend a portion of their summer abroad as part of Penn State’s Global Health Exchange Program (GHEP). Additionally as part of the two-way program, the Hershey campus will host 10 international students in July.

Now in its third year, GHEP is a collaboration between Penn State and international academic institutions to help understand issues in disease burdens, health care systems, public policies and health inequities globally. The exchange program, part of the Penn State Master of Public Health Global Program, offers students unique opportunities to study health-related topics in diverse settings.

“Penn State’s GHEP facilitates global conversations on major public health issues and connects students from across the globe,” said Kristin Sznajder, assistant professor and associate director of international initiatives. “Our students are the key to the program’s success, and we consistently have incredible students.”

While abroad, the graduate students gain an international perspective on health care systems while conducting international research. The Penn State students who are participating in GHEP this summer will assist with global health initiatives by studying the burden of tuberculosis in India and Sri Lanka, as well as focusing on mental health within vulnerable populations in China.

Meanwhile in Hershey, incoming graduate students from Taiwan Medical University, China Medical University and the University of West Indies-Cave Hill in Barbados will be on campus to gain a comprehensive view of the U.S. health care system and how it compares to other systems across the world. Visiting students will investigate global health issues, meet with national and state legislators, tour the Pennsylvania Department of Health and interact with Penn State students and faculty.

At the close of their learning experience, international students will present final projects that highlight public health challenges and offer innovative approaches to solving these global problems.

“Penn State is a leader in global health education, and GHEP provides an effective platform to help us accomplish this mission,” said Wenke Hwang, associate professor and director of the master of public health program at Penn State College of Medicine. "Through this hands-on experience, students gain a better understanding of interacting factors such as economy, politics, science and culture that shape the health of a population. Students learn first-hand how to work together to compare, contrast and address public health problems impacting the world.”

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Last Updated June 25, 2018