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Student Spotlight: Brittany Zick, MSc-GH ’16, Finds Global Health Path via Engineering

May 19, 2015

Brittany Zick, a North Carolina native, got her first taste of global health as a Duke undergraduate in engineering and global health professor Robert Malkin's Design for the Developing World class, followed by a summer in Duke’s Engineering World Health (EWH) program in Moshi, Tanzania. A few years later, Zick was given the responsibility of overseeing the younger undergraduates at the EWH site in Nicaragua.  

“I was somewhat lost in the engineering curriculum. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to apply it to my future career until I took my design course in 2007 with Dr. Malkin,” said Zick. “I was blown away by the different sets of engineering problems and applications in the developing world setting and how creative one had to be to solve them. This was the perfect way for me to combine service with study."

After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering in 2008, Zick took a position with the Rovisys Company as a automation systems engineer. After a few years, she found that the job wasn’t fulfilling her passion for global health, so she decided to pursue a master’s degree in global health. She recently completed her first year of the two-year Master of Science in Global Health program. 

In April, Zick was awarded a career development grant from the American Association of University Women. Shortly after that, she began her 13-week summer field experience in Uganda, where, under the mentorship of Michael Haglund, Duke neurosurgeon and professor of global health, she’s conducting research on neurosurgical capacity and challenges.

She’s examining how various pieces of surgical equipment are used by neurosurgeons in low-resource settings and how human resources are deployed to keep the equipment in working order. She’s spending four weeks at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, and then she’ll move onto two other sites in Uganda: Mbarara and Gulu. Zick’s work is supported with grants from DGHI and from the American Association of University Women.
 
“I'm thrilled to restart this journey of devoting my career to global health,” said Zick. “This summer I hope to not only gain a better understanding of neurosurgical capacity and challenges, but also to observe the difference that Dr. Haglund’s partnership with Mulago Hospital has made and advise the best way to implement this at future sites so that public hospitals in Uganda will be able to meet a larger proportion of their population's need.”

Read Brittany's recent blog posts about her work in Uganda:

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Brittany_Zick
Brittany Zick '16, MSc-GH candidate, dons scrubs to observe brain surgeries at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda

I was blown away by the different sets of engineering problems and applications in the developing world setting ... This was the perfect way for me to combine service with study.

Britany Zick '16, MSc-GH candidate

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