Indi Trehan, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, teaches a two-week global health course designed to prepare medical students, residents, and fellows for clinical rotations and long-term careers in developing countries.
Trehan has worked on and off for 11 years in bare-bones clinics and hospitals in Africa and Southeast Asia. He co-founded the global health seminar four years ago with Rupa Patel, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
Participants practice diagnosing and treating “patients” in hospital simulation rooms, and visit community organizations in St. Louis that help immigrants and refugees. The trainees learn about malnutrition, parasitic tropical diseases, international health policies, and ethics and cultural sensitivities, among other topics.
Trehan notes that in resource-limited countries “you have to think on your feet and out of the box. You have to work with what you have, which often isn’t much.”
Caring for patients in developing countries requires a different mindset than working in modern medical centers with updated technologies, well-stocked supply closets and access to a full range of medications.