Thinking about going abroad in medical school? Considering a career in global health?
The UCLA Center for World Health (CWH) offers a variety of global health education programs for students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. First-year students can participate in a short-term training program in global health research, while fourth-year students can complete a clinical elective abroad.
But medical students don't have to travel overseas for global health exposure. Along with the CWH, the student-led Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) hosts lunch talks, informational sessions, documentary screenings and expert panels on campus.
Here, Anthony Bui, co-coordinator for the GHIG, discusses global health education programs at UCLA:
Becoming a doctor and leader
The son of Vietnamese refugees, Bui's interest in alleviating poverty and health disparities began in childhood. "We traveled a couple times to Vietnam, and I got to compare the life my cousins had versus my own. I started becoming very aware of the income and health disparities that exist across different countries."
During his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked with public health nonprofits in India, Uganda and Vietnam. Then he spent five years as a healthcare and economic development consultant and global health researcher.
Along with improving public policy, Bui also wanted to help individuals. While working with the Uganda Village Project during his time as an undergraduate, he helped to create health education programs for an impoverished village.
"After one presentation, a woman approached me," he recalls. "Her baby had fever and chills; possibly malaria. I told her, 'You should go see a doctor.' She said she had tried going to the health center. She would wait in long lines, but the doctor wouldn't come. There were also drug shortages. I realized that while I wanted to continue working on these larger systemic issues, I also wanted to help this individual. That motivated me to go into medicine."
Joining the GHIG
Soon after arriving at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Bui attended a student fair where he met leaders from the GHIG and CWH staff and faculty. He soon took on the role of co-director for the Los Angeles Global Health Conference.
For this day-long symposium, the GHIG brought in global health leaders, researchers and physicians to talk about their experiences and opportunities to effect change throughout the world. Keynote speakers included Christopher Elias, MD, president of the Global Development Group at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rishi Manchanda, MD, chief medical officer of The Wonderful Company.
At the conference, students were also invited to sit at faculty-led discussions during lunch, where they could learn more. "It was a way to connect students with potential mentors and people they could work with in the future."
Along with the CWH, the GHIG hosts lunch talks and seminars throughout the year, featuring global health speakers from the UCLA community and other worldwide institutions.
"As students, we're all trying to figure out what's next on our trajectory. Hearing from and speaking to researchers and faculty members in global health helps us carve out that next step."
Bui says there are many other global health education programs at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, from the short-term training programs to the Global Health Pathway curriculum.
"There are just so many opportunities, depending on your interest level. You can hear a global health talk about AIDS, do a clinical rotation in Peru, and/or take a year off to get a Master in Public Health. The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA faculty members and CWH staff care deeply about cultivating student experiences and helping us grow. Down the line, I see myself being a clinician who cares for individuals while working to address population-level problems. The mentors I've made at UCLA have shown me that's possible."
By Taylor Mallory Holland