Global hits local for emergency medicine students at Northwestern

IMAG0332It’s time to think local about global health, according to Dr. Stacey Chamberlain, Assistant Director of International Emergency Medicine and Global Health Fellowship Program at the University of Illinois- Chicago.

“When you think about the health sector here, we’re already global. The practitioners are global. The patients are global,” she said to an auditorium of physicians and medical students at the Feinberg School of Medicine Wednesday. The lecture was hosted as part of the Global Emergency Medicine Initiative under the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Because they are already practicing in a global environment here in Chicago– which includes everything from immigrant patients to infectious diseases to international teams of physicians– health care practitioners must re-examine what it means to be a global citizen and activist for global health, according to Chamberlain. “We’re realizing we don’t live in a bubble,” she said. “Whether or not you like it, you’re going to be involved in global health.”

Chamberlain co-founded the non-profit, Global Emergency Care Collaborative, during her residency training at Northwestern to help expand emergency medicine training in sub-Saharan Africa. Emergency medicine is a relatively nascent field in the U.S. and wasn’t approved as a specialty until 1979. Globally, the field of emergency medicine lags behind, and is just now picking up steam in Africa. Within the past 10 years, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania have all instituted emergency medicine programs and graduated their first specializing doctors. “This is cutting edge stuff,” Chamberlain said. “This is emergency medicine development happening right now in our lifetime.”

Chamberlain, a Feinberg alumnus, challenged students to think broadly about the roles they can take as a global health activist, whether through clinical practice, education, research, policy or other services. She shared her personal experiences working in global health to drive the message home: You can make a difference.

“It’s exciting to hear the different opportunities there are,” said Kevin Blair, a first-year medical student at Feinberg. “Without a doubt, it will be part of what I do.”

Blair was joined at the lecture by fellow first-year students, Annette Dekker and Caroline Dong, who say they were equally motivated by the presentation.

“We’re all interested in global health and learning how we can incorporate that more into our lives here,” Dekker said.

Dong said the three students are all considering working in global health for their final research projects at Feinberg.

“We’re all really excited to just get out there and do things,” she said.

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