An Interview with Ashti Doobay-Persaud, MD

January 17, 2017
Ashti Doobay-Persaud, MD

Ashti Doobay-Persaud, MD is Faculty Director for the Masters of Science in Global Health and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She has been a GHDonline Faculty Network member for five years, and has taught GHD's Cases in Global Health Delivery for three. 

What interested you in the GHD cases?

When I was a medical student, I didn’t understand the nuances of global health (“international health” at the time). I saw all the missteps that are so easy to make.So, I started teaching myself about best practices in global health practice. As time went on, I became a global health educator because I wanted to teach other people to think about global health in a sustainable and ethical way. I was looking for teaching resources, and I didn’t know how students could learn about how to do things other than talking to people in the field. At the time, all that existed were intense programs like the Global Health Equity residency.

I saw the GHD cases as another way to learn about global health and to learn how to teach and then apply this thinking to the NGOs I work with. That got me interested. And the Faculty Network itself was a way to really have help sorting out how to do it.

A GHD faculty member was handing out a flyer about the GHD case collection at a conference. I saw this was a different lens of thinking about global health delivery. I started thinking: “What is context? What are all the things about context we should be thinking about?” I wanted to learn for myself but also for my students, and I wanted to build an education portfolio in global health. At the time, I was lecturing medical students regarding global health issues.

What has your experience teaching the cases been?

I first developed a seminar around the cases for medical students. As time went on, the cases became part of my global health education portfolio. I had a lot of help from GHD faculty about how to do this and I adapted the course for various settings.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to dedicate an entire class to selected cases from the collection for our MPH program. That was the first time I dedicated an entire course to the cases. It was a 3-hour seminar. I am now the Associate Director of Global Health Graduate Education. Teaching the cases to various students has helped in building credibility and content expertise. It has helped build a career for me.

Having the teaching notes is great, I really enjoy reading how people think through the cases. I enjoyed them for the sake of learning as well. I would try on my own and see what kind of boards I make myself and then go through the teaching note.

What did your MPH students think of the case seminar course?

They loved it! I ended up receiving an outstanding teacher award from the course as well. They really enjoyed it and so did I.

What has kept you engaged in the Faculty Network?

I have remained connected to the main staff and faculty. I have had the chance to improve the course I teach and make it easier to teach by virtue of their assistance. That has been great value. I feel connected to you and the other instructors; I can shoot you an email about any questions I have about the course, which I think is a great asset to any educator. This is a very specific type of mentorship. Particularly in medicine, there are not a lot of mentors.

What do you see as the principle value of the case studies?

I think that they the cases teach students how complex and nuanced global health delivery is and the major principles that underlie it. The importance of these principles—the importance of the surrounding context, what grassroots workers you have, the importance of aligning with governments and ministries… I think the cases really show students everything that is involved—the many pieces that go into delivering care to just one person. The cases illuminate those many influences and needs and players and even dependence and interdependence. It’s very complex how you care for anyone in a resource-limited setting in any situation. One thing that the cases do is give you that rich picture, the most realistic picture.

This course is in line to become a required course for the global health concentration in the MPH program in the future. That’s a big role.