Medical students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will have the opportunity to put their emergency training into practice while also helping developing nations improve their own emergency services programs.
The new Emergency Medicine Global Health and Leadership Program at the UNC School of Medicine is offering fellowships for emergency medicine physicians to work, conduct research and build emergency services capacity in developing countries. Fellowship applications are due Nov. 1, and are open to any physician who has completed an ACGME-accredited residency program in emergency medicine.
“The purpose is to train board-prepared emergency physicians, with strong career interests in advancing the delivery of emergency care in developing countries,” says emergency medicine specialist Ian B. K. Martin, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and internal medicine, and director of Global Emergency Medicine at UNC School of Medicine. “We are teaching these medical students to be leaders in the field through close mentorship, implementation of research and/or education projects and coursework at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.”
Martin, who also founded the new program, is recruiting physicians who have completed residencies in emergency medicine to become fellows in the Emergency Medicine Global Health and Leadership Program. In their first year, they will be junior faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UNC while completing a Master’s in Public Health degree at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Their second year will be spent abroad, implementing an investigative research project or an education project in addition to providing clinical care to patients.
Martin works closely with healthcare facilities in Tanzania (University of Arusha Medical Center) and in Kenya (Kenyatta National Hospital) to provide his students and resident physicians with clinical experiences abroad and to see how acute care is provided in a resource-limited setting in East Africa.
One challenge U.S.-trained emergency medicine professionals will face as they work in many developing nations is that their specialty is not well understood by the public or even local healthcare professionals, Martin said. For example, while they might understand a specialty such as obstetrics and gynecology, they may know less about emergency medicine as a specialty and the resources necessary to support an effective emergency department in developing countries.
“Our fellows need to be pioneers and trailblazers because they are not only going to be implementing a research or education project, but they are also involved in advancing emergency care in a part of the world where emergency medicine as a specialty has not previously existed,” he explains. That means they will be called upon not just to diagnose a tropical disease or respond to life-threatening wounds, but to help build training infrastructure and emergency services capacity at the local level as well.
Martin has been at UNC for just over two years, and he previously helped to establish a similar program at Duke University.
Martin estimates that the new program is one of about 35 similar programs nationally, but he adds that the UNC program is unique because it allows fellows the opportunity to complete a MPH degree with a global health certificate at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “The fact that our fellows spend at least seven consecutive months abroad also makes it a fairly unique program,” he says.
“You are really pushed to be creative and resourceful in the developing world,” says Martin. “I think we’re going to have a real impact. We don’t want to just be a clinical program, but we want to also be a program that trains the future leaders in this field.”
Fellowship deadline is Nov. 1 each year. For more information, visit the Global Emergency Medicine program website.
This story originally appeared on the UNC Global website.