MPH Panama Practicum 2012: Los Fabulosos!

July 3, 2012
Author: Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati

I am excited to be back in Panama conducting the practicum in global health for our MPH program, now in its 4th year. I want to welcome you our “fabulosos” 15 students (Garine, Grace, Yasmin, Stephanie, Chloe, Jessica, Patrick, Babar, Maurice, Chris, Jenny, Deena, Theresa, Rachel, and Chelsea). Our hosts have said you are fabulous. They love the energy of your group! You have worked so hard in preparation for this trip, that we all agree that you have already progressed to where most groups are a week from now! Let me also introduce the rest of our team.  Our Preceptors here in Panama are Dr. Arlene Calvo and Aracelys Quintero and Arturo, at the University of South Florida, Panama Office and Health Research International, and Enfermera Lourdes A. from the Universidad de Panama and the Ministry of Health of Panama. (I still can’t figure out how her make up is always perfect in this heat, and she walks up and down slippery hills in those heals!). From USC other “fabulosas” are my partner faculty, Dr. Kathleen Dwyer, who oversees the domestic and international practica, and Rosa Barahona, our staff and “logistician” (picked up that name from Doctors without Borders in our recent MPH trip to WHO in Geneva!). Back home, Rose Chon and Joanne Cho will be joining us via Skype so we can all stay on track with our deliverables, journals, scopes of work, and competencies. And, must also mention Andrew Zaw who is helping us with the technical side of things at USC! Welcome everyone! We promised you lots of rain, and we have delivered!!! Enjoy your time in the rain forest and we wish for you life transforming adventures in Panama!

More about the MPH Panama Practicum

A group of 15 University of Southern California graduate students are researching public health in Panama City, Panama, for a two-week international practicum, organized by the USC Master of Public Health (MPH) program. The students have been divided into three groups to work on maternal and child health, vaccination, environmental infectious diseases, nutrition and physical activity.

One group will be surveying patients about the healthcare system at a local clinic and proposing interventions to improve vaccination, infant development and women’s health. Another group will be in the field responding to outbreaks of environmentally spread infectious diseases and working to control common vectors such as mosquitoes. The last group will be calculating body mass index measurements for elementary school students and developing methods to improve nutrition and exercise within the school.

During their trip, the students will also be attending lectures on Panama’s healthcare system and statistics as well as visiting a remote indigenous tribe. Before leaving Panama, each student will be providing a deliverable that is intended to improve health in Panama.

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