The UMass Medical School has long supported international experiences for students, residents and faculty. The International Medical Education Office offers assistance to students and residents who are interested in international work. Over the years many pediatric residents have gone abroad for such experiences. They are strongly encouraged by our program director, Jerry Durbin, who has been involved with a health project in a remote locale in the Guatemalan rain forest for over twenty years.
During the past two academic years, our residents have participated in international rotations in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Liberia. Over the past twelve months we have established a program with JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia. Three residents, with UMass faculty, have traveled to Liberia for month long international electives at JFK.
Liberia is a small Africian nation on the West Coast of Africa. Liberia has a complex political history, and has been subject to internse conflict over the past twenty years. The conflict came to an end in 2004, and a new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected to office in 2005. Liberia is in the process of rebuilding infrastructure, economic and education programs, and the medical system. The international elective in Liberia is a unique opprotunity to gain experience in management of diseases of developing countries, but also to participate in rebuilding a medical system.
This coming academic year we are planning to send seven residents to Liberia. We have partnered with a non-profit organization called HEARTT (Health Education and Relief Through Training), which is committed to training medical and nursing personnel in Liberia. UMass is responsible for scheduling residents and faculty from our own institution, as well as several other Pediatric Residency Programs through the country, to staff the Department of Pediatrics at JFK Medical Center. UMass and HEARTT together have been able to fund this experience for our residents.
At JFK, our residents have cared for children with malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, sepsis, malnutrition, tetanus, parasites, epiglottitis, and many other diseases. We have begun exploring both quality improvement and reseach projects in the areas of malnutrition, fluid management, newborn resuscitation, and palliative care. These are very exciting opprotunities for our residents and faculty.