When wielding a stethoscope is not enough

Posted on December 13, 2013 by

By Yesenia Risech-Neyman, a 2013 graduate of the GHD Summer Intensive program. Yesenia is currently a second year internal medicine resident Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Global Health track. 

Yesenia Risech-Neyman, a 2013 GHD Summer Intensive (GHDI) alumna, working in Botswana earlier this year.

Yesenia Risech-Neyman, a 2013 GHD Summer Intensive (GHDI) alumna, working in Botswana earlier this year.

How can the field of global health generate the management expertise needed to allow the efforts of well-meaning health care professionals to effect lasting change?

The GHD Summer Intensive (GHDI) made it clear to me that to get at the heart of problems in resource-poor settings, the solution is not necessarily more stethoscope-wielding kind-hearted physicians from OECD countries. Solutions will come from interventions that target the broader systems issues that caused the problems in the first place.

In one of the case studies on surgical care in Kijabe Hospital, Kenya, Collins Muiruri (trained in mechanical engineering and business) is quoted as saying “In mission hospitals, sometimes the doctors are doing everything from finance projects to HR. That just creates a nightmare foundation.”

And how can we be blamed? Our medical schools teach us how to identify heart murmurs, not how to work Central Medical Stores to prevent stock-outs.

I think the GHD Summer Intensive program is at least part of the answer: to bring global health delivery, not just global health medicine, to medical training curriculums.

So how can we harness the passion and appreciation of human suffering from preventable diseases that is at the forefront of the mind of every MD and MPH interested in global health, and apply it to a new model of designing and executing solutions capable of being scaled?

I think the GHD Summer Intensive program is at least part of the answer: to bring global health delivery, not just global health medicine, to medical training curriculums. But then how do we achieve the buy-in of those who design such curriculums, and how do we generate a sense of urgency and responsibility in those who are training in resource-rich settings? These are questions waiting to be answered, and the answers will certainly require more than just a stethoscope.

This piece, by Yesenia Risech-Neyman, MD is the second in our series of first-person reflections from our 2013 GHD Summer Intensive alumni. 

If you, or someone you know is interested in GHDI, please visit the “Courses” section on our website. Applications are now open. The deadline is February 1, 2014.