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Building a Two-Way Street: Global Education From Texas to Kenya … & Back  »

During their time in Austin, Glory Mutheu and Uniceve Mobisa joined Dell Med students for elective clinical rotations in pediatrics, cardiology and more. It’s part of a bilateral exchange program allowing medical students and residents to gain exposure to global health care settings, established through Dell Med’s Department of Population Health and Texas Global as part of the AMPATH Consortium 

Mutheu and Mobisa are the first medical students from Moi to visit Dell Med, and they benefited from the school’s unique global health student ambassador program — an enrichment elective available to Dell Med students that creates both additional support for visiting students and exposure to global health systems for local students. 

“Learning about global health is an important step toward eliminating health disparities,” says Tim Mercer, M.D., MPH, chief of the Division of Global Health and associate professor in the Department of Population Health at Dell Med. “This program not only helps both Dell Med and Moi University students understand their role in patient care, but also the role of health systems, culture, socioeconomics and many other factors that span national boundaries in our increasingly globalized world.” 

From Eldoret to Austin … 

Mutheu, who aims to be a cardiologist but had limited exposure to the cardiac unit in Eldoret, was able to witness procedures such as pacemaker placements, catheter inserts and electrophysiology cardiac mapping studies, as well as interact firsthand with patients and weigh in on consults.  

“Coming here to see technology we don’t have in Kenya for the first time was mind-blowing,” Mutheu says.  

Among Mutheu and Mobisa’s classmates were members of the Dell Med Global Health Student Ambassadors program, who lent support to the incoming exchange students and acted as hosts throughout their stay. From H-E-B excursions to paddleboarding outings, as well as discussions of health care systems in different countries and history of colonialism in global health, the ambassadors became a guiding force for Mutheu and Mobisa 

Together, Mutheu, Mobisa and the ambassadors took part in a global health elective, introducing them to concepts and best practices for cross-culture medicine and research. 

“People in other countries have lived experiences,” Mutheu says. “They are also global health experts. I’m happy to be connected to people from a different cultural background. Now I know how to interact with people with different perspectives from my own.” 

The team-based approach that Dell Med faculty providers use to treat their patients was in contrast to the structure that Mutheu and Mobisa observed back home in Eldoret. Attending physicians and fellows were eager to involve the pair in their evaluations, offering feedback and support.

“I learned how to take ownership of the treatment plan, to be secure and not be afraid of saying the wrong thing,” Mutheu says. “Here, they encourage you to go ahead and say what you’re thinking.”  

… & From Austin to Eldoret 

So far, two cohorts of Dell Med students have visited Moi University to gain hands-on experience during a rotation with the Kenyan health care system.

“It’s very easy to be critical of the ways we aren’t able to best serve patients or other deficiencies in the U.S., but seeing our health system through the visiting students’ eyes gave me a deeper appreciation for the things we’re fortunate to have, like access to sophisticated imaging equipment or a curriculum that has patient-centered care woven into its foundation,” says Sanjana Ravi, fourth-year Dell Med student who participated as an ambassador during Mutheu and Mobisa’s visit to Austin. “I’m really excited to visit, knowing there are so many things we are learning from the Kenyan health system — like being good stewards of our resources and understanding how a more community-based culture informs health and health care practice.” 

Dell Med pediatric emergency medicine fellow Graham Aufricht, M.D., credits the growth of his leadership skills to his involvement with AMPATH. Aufricht participated in clinical work at Moi University in Kenya in the spring of 2023 to gain doctor-patient interaction experience.  

“The program helps you understand that providing care for people is more than just the medical aspect — it also involves economics, religion and ethics that are sometimes beyond the limitations of Western medicine,” says Aufricht, who now helps oversee the selection and logistics of Dell Med residents seeking to participate in Spanish language immersion electives at the AMPATH México site in Puebla. “One of the tenets of global health is that there needs to be bilateral reciprocation — it needs to be a two-way exchange.”