Partners Center of Expertise Global Health Symposium: residents focus on global career paths

Anne Rigg, Partners Graduate Medical Education
Jennifer Goldsmith, BWH Division of Global Health Equity

The Partners Centers of Expertise for residents and fellows offer enrichment opportunities in the areas of Global and Humanitarian Health, Quality and Safety, Medical Education, and Health Policy and Management.  Established in 2009, the Center of Expertise in Global and Humanitarian Health offers travel grants and monthly faculty-led dinner sessions focused on global health topics and career development.  On November 12, 2016 the Center of Expertise in Global and Humanitarian Health hosted its inaugural Global Health Symposium.GH symposium 2016_3

Drs. Geren Stone, Mrak Siedner and Serena Koenig on the Global Health Research Careers Panel

The Global Health Symposium was developed by Drs. Joe Rhatigan and Geren Stone.  Dr. Rhatigan serves as Associate Chief of Global Health Equity at BWH and Residency Director of the BWH Howard and Doris Hiatt Residency in Global Health Equity.  Dr. Stone is the Director of the Global Medicine Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital and actingMGH co-leader of this COE.  Dr. Rhatigan was enthusiastic about the full day program for trainees. “The range of experience in global health at Partners is exceptional.  Creating a unified day where trainees could interact with these leaders and one another seemed like a terrific and effective way to draw from the strengths of our community.”

45 Partners trainees spent their Saturday gathered at HMS’s Tosteson Medical Education Center for a series of interactive sessions focused on career paths in global health.  The day-long symposium covered a range of global health-related career paths–research, program development and clinical work–and addressed early career opportunities and the role of mentors.

In order to engage participants in more personal conversations alongside the formal presentations, plenary speaker Bob Einterz, MD prompted participants to read three articles about global health along with a poem by William Carlos Williams.  Dr. Rhatigan explained that this content set a framework for understanding the complexities faced by US-trained doctors working globally in a range of settings, often with limited resources.

Dr. Einterz serves as director of the Academic Model for the Provision of Healthcare (AMPATH) Consortium and as Associate Dean and Professor of Global Health at Indiana University.  In 1989 Dr. Einterz co-founded a partnership between Indiana University and Moi University in Kenya, where he also served as the interim coordinator of the Department of Medicine 1990-91.  AMPATH has developed into a comprehensive system of health care delivery, research and training, with a primary care and chronic disease management program that serves a population of nearly 2 million people in western Kenya, including care for more than 100,000 HIV infected individuals.  Dr. Einterz spoke about this work addressing the personal challenges faced by clinicians who deliver care both in academic centers and resource-limited settings.  This complexity is captured in the poem “Between Walls,” by physician poet William Carlos Williams:

Between Walls

the back wings
of the
hospital where

will grow, lie

in which shine
the broken

pieces of a green

Partners physicians Mark Siedner and Serena Koenig described the process of developing global research careers.  Mark Siedner, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at MGH, where he completed his ID fellowship.  Part of his research focuses on mobile-health based interventions that address barriers to care in rural Uganda.  Serena Koenig, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Divisions of Global Health Equity and Infectious Diseases at BWH.  Her work, based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, focuses on improving HIV care through clinical and behavioral interventions.  Both Mark and Serena described the relatively uncharted career paths they chose in global health research, and described practical aspects such as negotiating work contracts that protect time for travel and research, and considering the work-life balance of a global health career.

GH symposium 2016_1

A session on global program development was led by Joia Mukherjee, MD, MPH and Lisa Cosimi, MD.  Dr. Mukherjee is an Associate Physician in the BWH Division of Global Health Equity and Chief Medical Officer for Partners In Health (PIH); Dr. Cosimi is an Associate Physician in the Divisions of Global Health Equity and Infectious Diseases at BWH, BWH Co-Lead for the COE, and Director of the Partnership for Health Advancement in Vietnam.  Dr. Mukherjee energized the audience by conveying both the practical side of program implementation and the passion behind her work.  PIH leads programs in ten countries around the world.  Dr. Cosimi described her efforts around enhancing medical education programs in Viet Nam, reinforcing that global health efforts extend beyond clinical care or research–and ideally strengthen health systems for the long term.

Drs. Rhatigan and Stone closed the day with a session on “Closing discussion: Reflections moving forward in Global Health careers”, emphasizing the role of mentors in global work.  Dr. Stone described the day as, “a great opportunity to bring together faculty and trainees interested in global health equity from across institutions and specialties,” noting that “it was inspiring to hear from global health leaders and to think with our trainees how to build and sustain careers with this focus.”

BWH Internal Medicine and Global Health Equity resident Michael Peluso, MD, described the impact of the event: “It was great to spend the day and share ideas with trainees from across the Partners system and from different divisions engaged in global health!  I met residents and fellows who share my interest in medical education in global health settings, and this has led to ongoing conversations that have allowed us to share our experiences, accomplishments, and goals for our work in medical education in settings like Botswana, South Africa, and Malawi.”