The Importance of Introducing Virtual Global Health Internships into Health Science Education
It goes without saying that we live in a world of an “increased interconnectedness and interdependence of peoples and countries”, the WHO’s definition of globalization. We can learn so much from one another and it’s essential to building character; stepping out of our own bubble and taking a deep dive into other cultures to see what they have to offer.
Through virtual volunteering and internships, United Planet provides personalized, immersive, international experiential learning opportunities for students to gain insight into the healthcare systems and challenges in various countries. Students can get involved in solving real-life health challenges as organizations face the global pandemic, while also addressing ongoing healthcare needs within their communities.
Kelvin, United Planet Virtual Intern Alumni, worked on a healthcare project in Costa Rica—that resonated with him—to educate on prevention and early detection of cancer variants that affect the local community. Other than creating various educational posters of cancer variants in Spanish, Kelvin also created an “innovative solution to help the cancer community abroad by digitally connecting patients and caregivers with friends and families through a messaging platform. This evolved into an online support community that gives patients a safe space to share their experiences throughout their journey with others going through similar challenges.”
At the start of 2021, health science students from Nipomo High School in Nipomo, CA, participated in United Planet’s Virtual Group Quest, working with two global health projects. The students supported educating youth and community members on local health issues in Ghana, and provided support to a foundation that offers comprehensive and specialized rehabilitation to children and adults survivors of burn injuries in Honduras. “Not only did they learn more about various health topics such as telemedicine, burn prevention and burn treatment, but they also gained confidence with presenting information and asking questions of the organization’s medical director on the weekly Zoom calls,” Ms. Silveira, Patient Care Pathway Instructor at NHS and NCHSE educator, elaborated.
United Planet invites NCHSE educators to incorporate United Planet’s virtual healthcare internships into their course curriculum, as a way to engage students with real-life, hands-on experience in the medical field and provide them with an opportunity to give back to a local community. “This is the one of the first times my students have been able to experience positively impacting and contributing to the healthcare community, which motivates them to continue pursuing more opportunities to contribute in their futures as healthcare professionals,” said Mrs. Silveira.