Students partner with Global WACh to improve health in developing countries

Release Date: 
Monday, June 2, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin, aaw4@uw.edu, 206-221-2456

Students from the University of Washington are helping to improve the health of women and children across the world through Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children (Global WACh), a growing research and education center on the UW Campus. This year, Global WACh students completed projects in Nepal, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Seattle, focused on topics like nutrition, family planning, preventing mother-to-child HIV and adolescent health. On June 4th, the center will celebrate the work of these students at “The Next Big Thing.” The event will include scholar and poster presentations, and will allow attendees to learn more about the great work of this center.

Global WACh is unique in its approach to maternal and child health – students are selected from a variety of areas including nursing, public health, public affairs, and medicine.

Across their diverse disciplines, these students share many qualities, but among them are a passion for giving back and hope for a brighter future. We caught up with some of the recent scholars to learn more about their projects and why they chose global health.

Maura Carroll, 2nd year Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-DNP) student

School of Nursing 2nd year Doctor of Nursing Practice Student Maura Carroll was interested in gaining a global perspective from early on in her education. A Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, Maura returned to the US and knew that nursing and global health were in her future. After entering an accelerated bachelors of nursing program at Johns Hopkins, her work in an HIV inpatient unit sparked a passion for service to those suffering from HIV.

“Nurses are amazing,” she said. “The scope of practice in the US is somewhat limited compared to globally. Nurses do all kinds of care in some countries where there are few doctors or very limited access.”

After another international trip to Mozambique, Maura entered UW’s Nurse Practitioner program and found a niche with Global WACh. She assisted on a pilot project with Food for the Hungry Uganda, a faith-based NGO that works to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission using community health workers. Maura was deeply involved in helping develop the final program evaluation and providing trainings on PMTCT best practices and clinical guidelines, and believes strongly that her nursing background set her up for success.

“Nursing has a stronger understanding of the big picture,” she said. “Nurses have the skills to go into settings like these and manage tough situations with limited resources.”

Although Maura only was on site in Kitgum, Uganda for two weeks, the interventions made a major difference to the community. All of the children who were at risk for HIV at birth remain HIV free, thanks to the work of the program.

Christopher Kemp, Master in Public Health Student

For most of us, returning home from a two-year stint in the Peace Corps in South Africa would call for some rest and relaxation. For Christopher Kemp, a MPH student at the Department of Global Health, it calls for travel to Nepal to work on improving child nutrition. Soon after returning home, Kemp was selected to work with the UNICEF Office in Nepal to support the monitoring and evaluation of the Maternal and Young Child Nutrition Security Initiative in Asia (MYCNSIA) Program.

Nepal is the first country to implement a multi-sector approach to improving child nutrition by engaging six different ministries - including education, agriculture and water - in planning, implementation and evaluation of activities to improve child nutrition.  Kemp worked closely with colleagues at the UNICEF office and the district and national health offices over four months.

His advice for other up-and-coming global health practitioners? Approach communities with humbleness. Rather than assume your education provides you with legitimacy, listen and learn from the community from the beginning, said Kemp. 

And perhaps we should head Kemp’s advice because all six of his metrics and evaluation frameworks were endorsed by all the sectors, meeting every initial goal set forth by the project.

Emily Robinson, 2nd year Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-DNP) student

Emily knew she wanted to be a nurse from the age of 12, and continues to be immensely passionate about nursing as she pursues her graduate education at the UW. After three years of work as a nurse in Cairo, Egypt during the revolution of 2011, Emily moved to Seattle to join the UW FNP program and continued to share her passion for global health.

“Nursing has a unique perspective,” she said. “In many areas of global health, the nurse can be the bridge between the patient and provider when the patient is uncomfortable communicating with their provider directly due to cultural differences.”

In a few weeks, Emily will head to Ethiopia for three months to work with UW’s Strengthening Care Opportunities through Partnership in Ethiopia (SCOPE) program in an effort to reduce rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Following in the footsteps of MPH student Kristen Savage, who assisted in program development and evaluation last year, Emily will be working closely with populations in the community to educate and inform women about the necessity of pre-natal care.

Emily looks forward to her experience in Ethiopia and is excited to see the role nursing will take on in this context thanks to Global WACh.

Learn more: Join us on June 4th

Global WACh “The Next Big Thing” will be held on June 4th at the Foege Building on UW Campus. Seed grant awardees and scholar presentations will occur in the Foege Auditorium from 5-6pm, followed by a reception with graduate certificate program poster presentations from 6-8pm at the Vista café.

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The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society's most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit www.nursing.uw.edu.