College of Medicine students see medicine through global lens

June 27, 2018

As she reflects on the past four years at Penn State College of Medicine, Jordan Trubiano points to her participation in the Global Health Scholars Program as a definite asset to her medical training.

“I gained an understanding that there are different strengths and weaknesses in each country’s health system, which will give me a different perspective to offer to future training programs and hospitals where I will work,” said Trubiano, who will do her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

In Ecuador, where she traveled twice—once after her first year of medical school and again last winter—maternal health care is free, and people marvel that health care in America is so expensive and doesn’t cover everyone, she said.

The Global Health Scholars Program appealed to her because it offered two chances to visit the same place. As a first-year student, she worked on nutritional lessons for elementary school students and, during her second trip, she completed medical rotations in reproductive and sexual health.

“We’re the only U.S. medical school doing a longitudinal curriculum built over four years,” said Dr. Ben Fredrick, director of the Penn State College of Medicine Global Health Center. “Our program values relationship with the local community and builds relationship over time.”

The 10-year-old program has become more structured as more students now view cross-cultural experience as a necessary part of their medical education, Fredrick said. To be considered for inclusion, a country must have both a College of Medicine faculty champion and an international partner engaged at the site, and the country must be considered safe.

First-year students participate in a community health project. In Zambia, they focus on malaria and HIV; in Peru, infectious disease; in Ghana, strengthening of the health system; in Australia, indigenous people; and in Japan, nutrition. In their fourth-year trip, students gain clinical experience.

Xavier Candela, a first-year College of Medicine student traveling to Ghana this month with Fredrick, hopes participation will prepare him for a lifetime of global health mission trips.

“I have always thought of health care as something that should defy all political and cultural barriers and I believe, with globalization, there is increasing opportunity to address specific population needs across the globe,” he said.

Candella hopes to learn about the host culture and the nuanced challenges of delivering quality care abroad. “The unique relationship of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with Eastern Regional Hospital and its faculty allows students to be involved in research and service opportunities,” said Candela, whose past mission trips helped steer him toward a career in medicine.

Learn more about the Global Health Scholars Program in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 27, 2018