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Foreign Research Expands Healthcare Students’ World View

Jan 01, 2019 06:45PM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

Sustainable healthcare in developing countries requires regular education, adequate access, and government support. When agencies and governments need to make informed decisions about these issues, they can turn to an unlikely resource: university student research.

Dr. Carole South-Winter and her Health Services Administration students at the University of South Dakota have been conducting and publishing research for Sanford World Clinic for six years. It started with opinion leadership and patient satisfaction and in May 2018, student investigators were tasked to discover how long patients are willing to wait in line for healthcare, and learned that some will wait as long as three days. This survey also provided information to Sanford regarding new clinic location.

Supply chain management is essential, requiring a challenging level of managerial skill throughout the process. Second, research shows a strong correlation between a deficiency of healthcare workers and lower healthcare quality; it is common for outsiders to provide well-intentioned “Short Term Medical Brigades” to developing countries. This method does not fix the healthcare system and can actually create problems with continuity, finances, and cultural barriers (Portman & Martin, 2015). Investment in the local workforce by hiring indigenous professionals promotes cultural understanding and sustainable success. (South-Winter & Tihart, 2018).

Finally, education is paramount to building sustainable healthcare in developing countries, but—as South-Winter’s research shows—that education is mutually beneficial. Student researchers survey healthcare needs, conduct blood sugar and blood pressure checks, and teach the importance of handwashing and dental hygiene.

“Allowing students to be a part of the research process within the Sanford World Clinics is an amazing way to experience first-hand just how important the work is,” says student researcher Kylie Vandry.  “It was a major learning experience for me to see the real-life differences in each clinic’s healthcare facility and their services. As a student who plans on entering the healthcare field, the opportunity to conduct research in a developing nation has increased my passion and overall desire to help communities, such as the ones we visited.”

The most effective health initiatives provide free and equal access, especially to primary care, which is the greatest need in developing countries. Health systems are partnering with others dedicated to improving global healthcare, not least of these are university programs and student researchers.

By participating in such outreach experiences, this next generation of healthcare professionals learns hands-on skills necessary to create a healthier world. As graduate student Jeremy Coss summarized, “The unique part about this experience is that we, the students, conducted our own research regarding material that we learned in the classroom. This research opened an entire new view on my education & has enhanced my world view.”


References

Portman, MT, & Martin, EJ, (2015). “Medical Brigades, Global Health and the United Nations: Millennium Development Goals and Developing Nations”, Journal of Health & Human Services Administration, 38(1), 90-107.

South-Winter, CA, & Tiahrt, T, (2018). “Opening Clinics in the Developing World”. Global Journal of Business Disciplines (GJBD), Institute for Global Business Research (IGBR), 562


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