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Medical students think globally

Some of the medical students involved in the Global Health Interest Group are sitting (from left) Megan Richards, Emilia Bartellas, Theresa Lee and Will Stokes; standing (from left) Allison Pridham and Paula Cooper. Photo by HSIMS

By Sharon Gray

Global health is a key issue for medical students at Memorial, and to focus that concern a Global Health Interest Group has been started.

The group has ambitious goals, including implementing a global health elective into the medical school curriculum and establishing a partnership with a developed country for overseas electives for students in third and fourth year.

Activities so far include holding a student-run symposium in November with the goal of uniting social justice groups on campus and sharing innovative ideas on improving equality at the three tiers of social justice – local, national and international. Some topics included orphan care and China's one child policy, and religious and cultural barriers to health care. Holly King, a social work student, shared her experience at the symposium in developing a non-government organization in Kenya called People for Change.

"These topics are very seldom taught in school and the fact that they are taught by fellow students makes the learning experience more enjoyable," said Will Stokes, a second-year medical student who, with fellow student Allison Pridham, has spearheaded the Global Health Interest Group.

The medical students also participated in activities to raise money and publicize World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, and two documentary screenings are planned for this semester on issues in global health.

"We want to implement an advocacy campaign for pertinent issues affecting refugee and immigrant health," said Mr. Stokes. "We also want to have a fair trade advocacy campaign in collaboration with the Fair Trade Campus Coalition, a coalition between social justice groups on campus whose main purpose is to advocate towards fair trade on campus."

Ms. Pridham explained that while attending a Canadian Federation of Medical Student (CFMS) conference in Calgary, she began to look at what medical students at other universities were doing.

"I sit on the Medical Student Society at Memorial and my role is to liaise with the CFMS. In the past, medical students here have been interested in global health issues but the efforts were spread out. Our goal is to have a cohesive group that will bring everyone together."