International rotations are amazing opportunities to experience medicine within another culture and to see health care environments with illnesses and severity of disease that are not encountered in the United States. The UNC School of Medicine has partnerships with hospitals located in Malawi and Nicaragua, and we encourage residents with an interest in global health to rotate at these sites. Rotations in other countries may also be arranged; in recent years, our residents have spent time in China, India, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Greece.

UNC Project Malawi

UNC Project Malawi has been conducting research, supporting clinical activities, and mentoring Malawian clinical learners for over a decade. In 2016, UNC Pediatrics became part of PACHIMAKE, a consortium of US-based and Malawian institutions dedicated to working together to improve the outcomes of acutely ill children admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital. The consortium is committed to creating a sustainable, bi-directional collaboration through implementation of effective, coordinated, high-quality clinical, educational, quality improvement and research initiatives. Currently, approximately 5 pediatric residents per year do month-long rotations at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi in the Department of Pediatrics.

Malawi PhotoKamuzu Central Hospital is the national referral hospital in the capital city of Lilongwe, serving the central region of Malawi (lovingly known as “the warm heart of Africa”). It is an 800-bed hospital with ~300 pediatric beds. The pediatric ward admits more than 27,000 patients per year and manages all medical emergencies for the region. There are three general pediatric wards, a nutritional rehabilitation unit, a post-natal nursery and a high acuity ward. KCH is overseen by the Ministry of Health and affiliated with the Malawi College of Medicine with on-site facilities for the third-year medical students and plans to begin a pediatric residency soon.

For the past six years, Pediatric Emergency Medicine faculty member Dr. Elizabeth Fitzgerald has traveled regularly to KCH. She is part of a team UNC established more than a decade ago to help the impoverished nation build its own medical infrastructure and care for its people. Dr. Fitzgerald describes this work – and what motivates her to do it – in this video.

UNC – UNAN-León Partnership in Global Health

In 2014, the Department of Pediatrics entered into a formal educational exchange program between the two medical schools. UNC residents, as part of individualized education, can spend one month in beautiful León, Nicaragua, working alongside UNAN-León residents and faculty in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Pediatric subspecialty rotations are available, as are opportunities to engage in research and quality improvement projects. Logistics and expectations of the rotation are well-defined, though flexibility exists to personalize each resident’s educational experience. Proficiency in Spanish is required. After clinical obligations are over, residents may also take advantage of language classes, as well as nearby attractions such as Cerro Negro Volcano and Las Peñitas beach.

Funding

The UNC Office of International Activities offers two funding options for residents. The first is a scholarship that awards up to $2000. Residents at any level of training can apply. The second funding option is the Office of International Activities Global Health Scholars Program. This is a competitive two-year program for residents with two years of training remaining. The current Global Health Scholars cohort is comprised of nine residents, two of which are from our program. It should also be noted that residents rotating abroad maintain their salaries and benefits.