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RPCV and Former Dean of Medical School Becomes Global Health Innovator

James Scott

MD Peace Corps Sierra Leone 1977–1978

It is hard for me to imagine a more rewarding or exciting opportunity than the chance to participate in the launch of the Global Heath Service Partnership (GHSP). As a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Sierra Leone more than 30 years ago, I never imagined that I would later return to Peace Corps as a principal part of one of the agency's most innovative and technically advanced programs.

The GHSP is a logical extension to the Peace Corps' half century commitment to education and health, with its focus on the technical work of training physicians and nurses in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. Throughout my career as a physician and medical school Dean at the George Washington University (GWU) School of Medicine and Health Sciences, I often wondered when a program such as this would begin. I now realize how much work goes into recruiting, preparing and deploying nurses and physicians who are also educators; this deeper understanding gives me a profound appreciation for the wonderful partnership between the Peace Corps, PEPFAR and Seed Global Health, as together they have now made this effort a reality.

As Senior Academic Advisor of Seed Global Health, I, along with colleagues from Peace Corps, facilitated the training and orientation for the inaugural group of Volunteers. My team developed a two week stateside orientation in which 31 nurses and physicians gathered at Peace Corps' headquarters to review important topics such as: tropical illnesses and corresponding conditions, setting specific management for HIV, TB, and trauma, the components of effective lecture preparation and delivery, as well as small group and bedside teaching techniques. We invited experts from the Department of State, Massachusetts General Center for Global Health, Children's National Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, among others, to present on these topics and to provide practical advice for the Volunteers on how to most effectively accomplish their teaching in resource limited settings. In addition, the Volunteers had access to the simulation lab at GWU, spending a morning practicing skills on mannequins with IV and central line placement, intubation, and ultrasound imaging. Along with this jam-packed schedule, Volunteers simultaneously 'learned the ropes' of what it takes to become a successful Peace Corps Volunteer from the Peace Corps' top training staff. By the end of their training, the Volunteers were enthusiastic and prepared for their upcoming year of service.

The group has since arrived in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda and is now continuing their training for two additional weeks in their countries of service. During this time, the Volunteers will learn more about the health and education systems of their countries and will meet with their counterparts who are faculty members at these institutions. They will also learn specific cultural considerations that will help ensure their integration and work experience is a success.

The Volunteers who embarked on this wonderful journey are truly an inspired and inspiring group. They are nurses fresh out of the emergency department in San Francisco and others who are broadening their horizons after decades of teaching in U.S. nursing schools. Similarly, they are doctors just out of residency and others with decades of experience in pediatrics, cardiology or anesthesiology. During the next year, these Volunteers will no doubt encounter dedicated and committed students and accomplished faculty juxtaposed against firsthand glimpses into the need for more well trained doctors and nurses to address the staggering shortages in the these countries.

To the Peace Corps and Seed Global Health—congratulations, and to the newest cadre of Peace Corps Volunteers—we commend your commitment, wish you safe travels and good luck, and stand behind you in support of your good work.

Last updated Oct 30 2014

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