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New Elective Track Prepares St. Luke’s Medical Students to Become Global Health Leaders

| February 15, 2021


As part of its commitment to be a globally recognized center for innovation in medical education, the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial, through its new Planetary and Global Health Program, launched in 2020 a new track in Global Health for junior and senior interns.

Entitled “COVID-19 Action Lab: An Introduction to Global Health Thinking,” this course, which is one of the three tracks in the new Service Learning Elective option, provides an opportunity for medical students to learn the rudiments of global health thinking and use global health frameworks and tools for understanding and tackling COVID-19 – the grandest global health challenge of our time.

Global health is a philosophy of health that acknowledges the global interconnectedness of health in the 21st century – its challenges, outcomes, drivers, and solutions. In global health, our patients are not just individuals, but also communities, countries, global society, and the entire planet.

The course is delivered by Dr. Renzo Guinto, inaugural director of the College’s Planetary and Global Health Program and Associate Professor of the Practice of Global Public Health in the Department of Professionalism, Medical Ethics and Humanities.

“Global health is not merely about health of people abroad – it is about health at our doorstep shaped by forces beyond the four corners of the clinic and the hospital,” said Dr. Guinto. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of equipping our future physicians with knowledge and skills in global health leadership.”

Delivered online due to the pandemic, the four-week course introduces key concepts and competencies in global health including systems thinking; policy and political analysis; design and innovation thinking; advocacy and implementation science; and leadership and communication. The course has a mixture of synchronous (teleconference) and asynchronous (readings, films) learning activities.

Dr. Renzo Guinto, Associate Professor of the Practice of Global Public Health

Each cohort is expected to use global health analytical skills to address a chosen COVID-19-related issue and produce a draft paper for later publication, an op-ed draft, and other reflection papers. The course culminates with a Global Health Grand Rounds where students present their projects to other faculty, students, and external guest experts.

A total of 14 junior interns and 8 senior interns participated in the Global Health track. Together they produced 9 papers on a wide range of topics ranging from PPE pollution and migrant health to ‘infodemics’ and mental health. Since the launch of this new course, several student cohorts have already presented their papers to international conferences.

“The global health elective was a welcome breath of fresh air from the usual specialization-geared courses in junior internship,” remarked Lennie Jean Daluz, a junior intern who co-wrote a paper about the commercial determinants of the COVID-19 response. “The course was challenging and well-designed, and it helped me gain an in-depth understanding of how health works on a larger, more complex scale than what I previously knew.”

John Lorenzo Hanrahan, a senior intern who studied the future of post-pandemic medical education, also described his experience in the course. “Learning global health can be intellectually challenging, but the course provided varied resources and unique methods that are useful for tackling novel and emerging issues in healthcare – themes that we just glaze over in the traditional medical school curriculum,” he said.

This new course is part of realizing the College’s vision for the program to become a leading center of planetary and global health education, research, and translation in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia by 2030. For more information about the program, visit https://slmc.kestrel-test.com/academics/global-health/.

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