Two Miller School Students Awarded Global Health Fellowships

Miller School students are the recipients of two of the three global health fellowships awarded by the American Medical Women’s Association this year, which matches the number of Miller School recipients last year, when the program was inaugurated.

Dyani Loo, a third-year student on the Regional Medical Campus in Palm Beach County, and Brigitte Frett, a first-year student and member of the inaugural M.D./M.P.H. class, were selected for the AMWA’s Anne C. Carter Global Health Fellowship.

“It is quite impressive that in year one of the award, we had two recipients, and now in year two, we have two more,’’ said Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate dean for student services and director of the Office of Professional Development and Career Guidance. “That’s a fantastic trend. This is a noteworthy award, and Dyani and Brigitte are well-deserving of this wonderful, longitudinal experience.’’

The rigorous two-year program is designed to provide educational, advocacy and clinical skills training, as well as networking opportunities to medical students interested in global health. Fellows are required to create a global health project in their communities, contribute regularly to the AMWA’s global blog, participate in biweekly conference calls and pursue a project to benefit a clinic in Uganda, which this year will include writing a grant for a maternity ward.

Though the fellowship was originally designed to give AMWA student members experience in the field, the selection committee learned that most applicants were already involved in international health. Loo and Frett are no exceptions.

Loo, who worked as a patient advocate for adults with schizophrenia and a crisis call operator in her native California before heading to med school, spent last summer in an Amazonian village in Peru. There she surveyed local attitudes about mental health care for a clinic that is considering adding a social worker to its services. She also taught school children about parasites, worked with community obstetricians, and helped visiting medical missionaries locate and treat cleft palate patients.

“When I was in Peru, I realized that even in the remotest places, with the direst of conditions, in completely different cultures and languages, people are so similar on a fundamental level,’’ Loo said. “I think that this fellowship will help me understand the true range of problems that we face in the world and the way people interact to cope with them in striving for a common aim of well-being.’’

Frett, who earned her master’s in social work after working as a nurse assistant, and interning at the Health and Human Services office in Chicago, spent the summer of 2005 in India, where she was struck by the lack of such basic health care resources as surgical gloves. When she returned to her native Chicago area, she developed a guide to clinics that offered free and reduced-fee Pap tests to women who went without because they didn’t know the resource existed.

“This fellowship will give me a window into the activities I can engage in as a global health physician,’’ she said. “It will also inspire me to continue creating relevant and sustainable projects that can generate meaningful change in global health.’’

The Miller School’s Bhavana Pendurthi, a third-year student, and Yuliya Tipograf, now in her second year, were among the inaugural fellows selected last year.

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