Students Tackle Global Health Issues at Northeast Regional Symposium

Clinicians and students gathered to present research, share ideas and explore opportunities in international medicine at the 2018 AUC Northeast Regional Symposium.

Clinical students, faculty, and alumni came together Saturday, May 12 to explore emerging issues in clinical medicine at AUC’s Northeast Regional Symposium, held at the Doral Arrowwood Resort in Rye Brook, NY. Centered on the theme of global health, the event showcased student and clinical faculty work on topics related to international medicine. 

U.S. Associate Clinical Dean Dr. Robert Hecht kicked off the symposium and welcomed attendees to the day’s events, which included seven student presentations, a physician-led panel discussion, and a keynote address. Groups of clinical students took the podium to share their findings on an array of diverse topics in global health—from influenza and meningitis to the Ugandan medical system and refugee mental health. 

“It was such an honor to present at AUC’s global health symposium,” said third-year student Austin McEvoy, whose presentation focused on the burden caused by cervical cancer in developing countries. “I’m looking forward to using this momentum to make a difference in women’s health both here and abroad.” 

Dr. Majid Sadigh, Trefz Family Endowed Chair in Global Health at the Western Connecticut Health Network and Director of Global Health at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, delivered the keynote address and moderated a faculty panel on ethical dilemmas in short-term electives in global health. As they navigated issues such as establishing a sustainable model and mitigating culture shock in a new environment, panel members emphasized the need for open communication and cultural sensitivity. 

From left to right: Drs. Majid Sadigh, Michel Dodard, Tanya Rogo, Bulat Ziganshin, and Paul Nanda participate in the faculty panel on ethical dilemmas in global health electives. 

During the panel, Dr. Bulat Ziganshin, AUC’s Global Health Elective Director, noted that students from international medical schools such as AUC often bring diverse experiences to the table, which sets them up for success during global health electives. 

“Although it’s not a requirement, a significant percentage of AUC students who apply for these electives already have rich international experience,” said Dr. Ziganshin. “We feel that the lack of culture shock is due to the student body and the work that AUC faculty are doing with students prior to their fourth year, when they apply for global health electives.”

In addition to showcasing student and faculty work in the realm of global health, the symposium also served as a resource for students to explore international opportunities and career paths. Dr. Ziganshin provided a comprehensive overview of the global health elective program through Western Connecticut Health Network, and specialty interest lunch tables offered students the opportunity to sit at one of four tables hosted by AUC Clinical Chairs in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Pediatrics. 

To close out the day, clinical deans recognized three student groups with “Outstanding Student Presentation" awards:

  • Cervical Cancer: A Global Burden on Women’s Health
        Austin McEvoy, Kevin Spence and Elizabeth Swezey
  • Influenza
        Clinton Gunn, Constance Steinmann and Timothy Martin
  • An Arbovirus Abroad: Service-Learning at AUC
        Constantine Kanakis

“Research and presentation skills are very important for our students’ future careers,” said Dr. Hecht. “I’m so impressed by our student presenters and I’d like to thank them all for being here.”

Constantine Kanakis speaks about his experience as part of the "Z-PACK," a group of students who developed a service-learning project on Zika prevention and public education in Sint Maarten.

From left to right: Constance Steinmann, Clinton Gunn and Timothy Martin receive an award for their presentation on Influenza from Dr. Kimberly Kirkland, Associate Dean of Clinical Student Affairs.

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