Starting out in global health can be a bit of an isolating experience, particularly when you’re a psychiatrist off-roading into a subspecialty that not many have sought before.
Your friends, colleagues and family are encouraging, although perpetually confused by what it is you're actually doing. And yet, many people desire to craft a personal experience, which is likely what leads some of us to global health in the first place.
This year, I started in the Duke Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health’s Global Health Pathway for Residents and Fellows. This program enables medical residents and fellows to receive global health training while applying themselves in research at an international site of their choice. Some of us—including me—also pursue a global health master’s degree in tandem with our research path.
It’s a great experience filled with new friends and new ways of thinking, but in other ways, returning to regular classes can feel stifling because it is such a startling change of pace from residency.
The faculty, though, are very accommodating about this transition, and our program director, Nathan Thielman, professor of medicine and global health, has taken it upon himself to create a personalized elective.
This “elective” actually takes place in Dr. Thielman’s home, where he prepares dinner for the residents and fellows, and throughout the evening, we talk about how we derive meaning as global health researchers. We’ve also enrolled in a personalized ethics class, which allows us to focus our conversations on health issues we have encountered during our time as physicians.
I deeply appreciate the fact that the program has allowed for greater degrees of freedom as we embark on new ways to express ourselves. After all, the journey through global health is a personal one.