Welcome: Shaping the Future Through Partnerships

By: Shawna O’Hearn, Director, Global Health Office

Welcome to a New Year!

As September arrives, the noises of campus change from construction to students talking about health equity, diversity, global health and partnerships.  The Global Health Office has grown with a new service learning program, more established initiatives for African Nova Scotians through PLANS, international elective opportunities are growing and we are always identifying opportunities to continue embracing and supporting social accountability across the health faculties.

This year, our work will fall within the theme of “Shaping the Future Through Partnerships” and you will see multiple new initiatives throughout the year.  Please join us on Saturday October 3, 2015 in the Tupper Link from 1-4 pm as we host our annual Global Health Open House which will showcase the diversity within our programs, partnerships and reach across and beyond the campuses.

Global Health Open House Oct 3, 2015

Global Health Open House Oct 3, 2015

We are thrilled to be presenting our Open House in partnership with the Dal Med Global Health Initiative (GHI) who will be facilitating the Global Health Living Library: Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experiences, which allows us to bring together a stronger more collaorative voice of global health at Dalhousie.

Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experience

Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experience

We look forward to working with students, faculty and staff from across the multiple campuses at Dalhousie University and continuing to collaborate with our local and global partners.

Don’t be a stranger.  Come see us in person or through our virtual presence.




Keep moving forward, stay open to opportunities

By: Michelle Patrick, program coordinator and Nikita Morris, camp participant

One of the highlights of being the program coordinator for PLANS* is the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Camp. For the past two summers a fun-filled week for students of African descent in Grades 8-11 to learn more about the health professions and the opportunities available to them in post-secondary education has been coordinated. In collaboration with a number of departments across the Dalhousie University campus, these students participate in hands-on activities to give them a real sense of what it would be like to be a student in medicine, nursing, or occupational therapy – just to name a few.

African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Summer Camp 2015

African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Summer Camp 2015

This year we had over 50 applications from students across the province. From this group of amazing candidates, 20 students were selected representing all regional school boards as well as the French board. Three counsellors were hired, each studying health or science at the post-secondary level. The group stayed at LeMarchant Place, the newest residence on Dal’s campus and ate at the dining hall in Howe Hall. It was a fantastic week, but don’t take my word for it – here is a post from one of our campers!


My name is Nikita Morris and I am 16 years old. I attend CEC (Cobequid Educational Centre) in Truro and I am entering my grade twelve year. I didn’t even know this camp existed until my math teacher approached me in the halls at the end of the day. I was hurrying off to get to my bus when she stopped me and asked me if I would be interested in applying for the African Nova Scotian Health Science camp. At first I didn’t really want to go. I expected it to be like the last camp I went to – boring, strict counselors, nobody becoming actual friends, and not really learning anything new.

I was completely wrong about this camp. I finally stopped complaining and just went. I’ll admit that it was probably one of the best things I’ve experience in my life so far. I learned a ton of new things, like how to extract the DNA from a banana, how to give a tooth a filling, I learned what occupational therapy is, and the things they did in physiotherapy plus a whole lot more. The camp counselors, Liette, Karissa, and Nii were so nice and weren’t strict unless it was necessary. Which was hardly ever.  The first day of camp everyone bonded with each other and started talking to each other. One of my favorite things, besides how everyone got along, what I’ve leavened, and how cool the counselors were; was how they assigned us with a mentor. Not just a mentor for that session but a mentor for whenever we had a question about university or college, or how to apply for a scholarship. The mentors really listened to what you had to say and they even gave good advice. I really do plan on keeping in contact with my mentor this upcoming year.

Nikita Morris during hands-on session

Nikita Morris during hands-on session

There was never a dull moment at the camp and I loved every second of it. The thing that surprised me the most was how confident I was. Normally it takes me a minute to get used to people but not here. Everyone was so welcoming. We had a variety show and I actually got up and danced in front of people, which is something I hardly ever do. This camp really helped me with my confidence. I was always comfortable with talking to adults and shy talking to people my age. Being at this camp really helped me with being comfortable with talking to anyone.  I wish I could’ve stayed in the camp forever but I have to keep moving forward and continue to experience new things. My next steps are to graduate high school and go to university to study psychology. Though I’m interested in working in film I also want to study psychology. Who knows, maybe I’ll do both.

Anyone thinking about attending this camp I’d tell them to go for it. I’d tell them how much fun it is and the different types of health sciences that you learn and how much they’d most likely love it. It’s good to try new things and meet new people. It’s also fun staying in residence and getting free food. Aside from that I’d say how nobody is judgmental and they’re very welcoming. You never know, this may be the best thing you’ll experience all summer.

For more information on this program please visit our PLANS webpage or contact Michelle at michelle.patrick@dal.ca.

*Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians – PLANS – aims to increase the representation of African Nova Scotians in the health professions through strategic recruitment, support and education in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Professions. For more information contact Michelle – michelle.patrick@dal.ca

“Hello nice people from the moon” – student blog

By: Jen LeBlanc
Outreach Coordinator, Global Health Office


Dalhousie Students in Tanzania

Dalhousie Students in Tanzania

This summer the global health office is supporting three Dalhousie University students completing research and internships in Tanzania. They are embracing this cultural and clinical experience with such enthusiasm and blogging about it as often as they can; so much so that we wanted to share some of their stories with you.  The students’ visit coincides with Ramadan, a holy month observed by Muslims worldwide that requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, and these bright students considered what this might mean before they arrived.

Before coming to Dar, I was apprehensive about Ramadan (the holy Islamic month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset). I wasn’t sure if there would be restaurants open, would it be offensive to walk around with a water bottle? These were some serious concerns. However, despite the large Muslim population, Dar is fairly relaxed…..My favourite experience living in a largely Muslim city is the haunting call to prayer resounding above the sound of horns honking and crowds milling about the street. While I don’t understand the words, it still offers a feeling calm, and a sense of being transported from the hectic chaos that can be daily life.

To complement their research and placements the students are taking language classes.  This has been important for the students to learn some conversational Swahili which has offered them more meaningful interactions with friends and colleagues and has deepened their appreciation for the culture that surrounds them.  They are also enjoying the tastes of the local menus – sounds like they could write their own guide book on the best butter chicken in the neighbourhood.

It’s nice to see that they have also found some time to visit the National Museum and discovered items that are not only historically interesting but also related to their visit.

A little more on point with our purpose for being in Tanzania was the exhibit on the HIV epidemic. Which included some interesting cartoons from the 1980’s (the height of the AIDs crisis and before the availability of antiretroviral medications, when the diagnosis of HIV was the equivalent to a death sentence).

We are so proud of these students! They are doing amazing work and are wonderful ambassadors for Dalhousie. Their blog posts are short and sweet, because let’s face it – they are busy and we are glad they are spending so much time out exploring their surroundings. The benefit is that they give us a snapshot into this amazing experience and they allow these students to feel connected to someone or something bigger. If you would like to read some of these stories yourself please follow the blog link.

The Silver Thatch: A personal experience of the simplicity of cultural exchange

Sara Abdo
Student – School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University
Donkey woven out of palm leaves

Donkey woven out of palm leaves

Reflecting on my academic, cultural and personal experience while completing a placement on Grand Cayman brings me to think of a series of memories and events surrounding the national tree, the Silver Thatch Palm (Coccothrinax proctorii).

As a student abroad, I spent most of my time trying to understand and immerse myself in Cayman culture but on Palm Sunday; I was able to share some of my culture with two local friends. Following the service at Cayman Islands Baptist Church, I was able to share Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox traditions for the same holiday as I taught two of my friends how to weave a donkey out of palm leaves. This was a cultural tradition I adopted years prior, and one that made me feel at home while away from home. For my friends, weaving came naturally as it was a part of their national heritage.

Weaving is a common occupation in Cayman and Egyptian culture. In Cayman culture, it is a way to celebrate identity and historical and cultural roots. The Silver Thatch is endemic to Cayman Islands and captures its natural heritage. In as early as the 1700’s it was used to produce items such as hats, baskets, and rope, as the leaves are tough, and resistant to the effects of salt water. In Egypt, palms are also used to produce similar items, but in the Coptic culture, making donkeys on Palm Sunday was a way to commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

Reflecting on this memory, I see how it captured occupation and validated its value and representation of a person’s identity. For me, weaving facilitated communication, formulation of community bonds, and knowledge exchange. In these small moments, I was able to witness the just how much of an occupation tells you about a person and allows for relationships to bond.

As a health care professional, it captured a journey towards cultural sensitivity and awareness and showed how easily occupation can build on relationships. Although the people that I bonded with were not clients, it showed me how occupation can be used to implement a greater understanding of the people you work with day to day. It demonstrated a beautiful and natural way of building relationships and how important it is to understand the value of the “little” things that people do day to day and just how much it tells you about a person, about yourself, and to value what you both have to offer one another. And from that, it gave me a new perspective to share with future students hoping to complete a placement abroad.


Global Health 2015 Photo Contest

 By Sarah Boucaud

Each year we host the Global Health Photo Contest to recognize the many creative, thought provoking and ethical photos that our students, faculty and colleagues take.  We presented our winners during the Global Health Town Hall at the end of March. These beautiful images and inspiring stories remind us that global health is all around us.  In a farmer’s field, in children playing, or through the sharing of a quiet moment. We wanted to take the opportunity to show you the global health stories of this year’s contest winners. All the submissions, however, were truly thought provoking, attesting to the creativity and depth of global health involvement of the Dalhousie community!

This year, our 2nd place winner was Ho Chi Minh Commute by Carolyn Reardon and our 1st place winner was Honduras by Laura Stymiest.

Ho Chi Minh Commute
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, August 2012
By Carolyn Reardon

2015 photo contest creardon
This photo was snapped from a taxi during the morning rush hour in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where most commute by motorbike. I thought it was an interesting glimpse into the daily happenings of commuters in this busy city, where the hectic traffic challenges our perception of public safety as Canadians. The riders in the photo appear quite orderly for the split second the image was captured, while the different directions in which the riders aim their bikes and glances reveals the dynamic nature of each of their positions. The face masks worn by each of the riders in the photo speaks to local concern with air quality, while also providing a representation of how as individuals, we take measures to protect our own health on a daily basis, and challenges the viewer to compare and contrast such measures in their own daily life with those in the image.


Honduras, February 2011
By Laura Stymiest

2015 photo contest lstymiestPrior to entering medical school, I was part of a group of health professionals who traveled to rural Honduran villages annually to operate mobile health units. Many mornings we would arrive in a village just after dawn to a line of hundreds of individuals hoping to receive care.

My role was to translate from Spanish to English for a Pediatrician. I remember one day in particular where one after another we saw emotionally charged cases. An infant failing to grow secondary to a cleft palate that had never been repaired, preventing him from feeding normally. A young boy who had lost his vision after an accident while working in a plantain field.



At the end of the day we had worked through our lineup but I felt we had hardly scraped the surface of this community’s health needs.  A bit discouraged, I was walking back to the bus to begin loading up our equipment when I saw these two young children walking home in an embrace. I had a moment of realizing that children represent the best of humanity. Although they lacked many of the luxuries of children at home, these children looked to be genuinely happy. I imagined them to be resilient and their warmth spelled out health to me — a kind of health that surpasses our usual definition and places happiness at the core.

Thank you to all who submitted photos this years, the images and narratives were truly inspiring!

Case Competitions: A capstone learning experience

By Sarah Boucaud, MHA(c)

You don’t often hear the words “health” and “competition” in the same sentence, but with Dalhousie hosting their first Health Care Team Challenge, the health professional programs are looking to competition as a fun, interdisciplinary way to learn.

In fact, it was a big year for Dalhousie in regards to health care related case competitions. At the end of February 2015, I participated with two of my colleagues in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Case Competition. It was a challenging and highly rewarding experience. We had three weeks to solve a health care case based in the United States and present it to a mock Board of Directors in Alabama. The case was comprehensive and involved building new service lines, strategic recruitment processes, and space allocation within new facilities. It was an unforgettable experience. We were the only Canadian team among 38 other teams from the United States.

The University of Alabama Case Competition was an opportunity to combine all of the knowledge and skills attained from the Master of Health Administration into a single academic endeavour. Drawing on more than just academic proficiencies, successful participation required teamwork, endurance, and unwavering determination. The chance to compete against schools from the U.S. was a rare opportunity to be immersed into another health care system—it was without question one of the most challenging and rewarding academic experiences of my degree. – Bennett Jovaisas, MHA(c)

A handful of times, other participants told us how “brave” we were to tackle a case based in a health system other than our own. In truth, we probably had a bigger learning curve during that three week case preparation period than most teams. However, throughout our experience, the commonalities of our two systems became apparent. We all want the same outcomes: happy and healthy populations. We also face similar challenges in achieving this goal, such as changing demographics and the need reduce costs.

The experience was invaluable. I learned a lot about a different health care system and a different way to perceive health. I also gained insight into my own strengths in working as a team and how to support one another in a demanding environment. We all come to the table with different experiences and ideas, but having those tough discussions around a common problem can truly generate new and innovative solutions.

Collaboration plays a valuable role in health care, but after this experience, I can’t help but think that a little competition is a useful learning tool in the health professions!


A global health paid internship opportunity: Pack your bags for Tanzania!

Why do you want to study or work abroad? For a new experience? To challenge your perceptions? To explore and learn from new health systems?

gho_internships_tanzania_summer2015There are a multitude of reasons and reciprocal benefits to global health internships and community learning opportunities. What often lacks is the resources to undertake these experiences. That’s why you can’t let this opportunity pass you by! The Global Health Office is offering two paid internships this summer in Tanzania with an NGO focused on HIV and community based care. These internships are made possible by the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships Grant from the Government of Canada. Once again, not only do you have the support of GHO staff, but up to $6, 000 to cover airfare, living expenses, vaccinations, and visas. 

From May until August, you will work closely with Tanzanian staff at PASADA on projects related to HIV/AIDS. The internship positions are for two project assistants (Key Populations and Prevention with Positive Clubs).

There is still time to apply! The application deadline is March 27, 2015. Please contact brie.rehbein@dal.ca for more information or visit our website.

If you can’t get out of your current summer plans to make this opportunity a reality, stay tuned for the summer of 2016. There are more internship opportunities to come! You can also check out our other local and global health programs through dal.ca/globalhealth.

IMG and IMU Alumni: Where are they now? – Part 4

By: Sarah Boucaud, Global Health Office Outreach Assistant


Kevin Teeluckdharry (IMG – Class of 2014)

Good teachers, a great environment conducive to learning. . . These are often things we hear from our alumni. Dalhousie University and the International Medical University of Malaysia have had a partnership for over 20 years. Each year, six IMU students are eligible to complete third- and fourth-year clerkships at Dalhousie leading to a Canadian Medical Doctorate degree. The program is managed through the Glboal Health Office. See what some of our recent alumni are doing now!

Where did you train and practice medicine?

Kevin Teeluckdharry

Kevin Teeluckdharry (IMG – Class of 2014)

I trained in Ukraine and Mauritius.  I practiced in Mauritius as a general practitioner

Why did you choose Nova Scotia?

As an islander, the Maritimes remind me of home!

What was the value of participating in the IMG Clerkship program at Dalhousie?

It enabled me to reintegrate into the medical field in Canada.

What is your intent for practicing in the province?

My intent is to practice as a family physician in a community for Nova Scotia


IMU and IMG Alumni: Where are they now? – Part 3

By: Sarah Boucaud, Global Health Office Outreach Assistant


Dr. Suha Masalmeh MD (IMG – Class of 2013)

Good teachers, a great environment conducive to learning. . . These are often things we hear from our alumni. Dalhousie University and the International Medical University of Malaysia have had a partnership for over 20 years. Each year, six IMU students are eligible to complete third- and fourth-year clerkships at Dalhousie leading to a Canadian Medical Doctorate degree. The program is managed through the Glboal Health Office. See what some of our recent alumni are doing now!

Suha Masalmeh, MD (IMG - Class of 2013)

Suha Masalmeh, MD (IMG – Class of 2013)

Where did you train and practice medicine?

My first medical school was in Aleppo University in Syria. I worked as an intern in several fields of medicine in Syria to fulfill a rotational internship.

Why did you choose Nova Scotia?

My family migrated to Nova Scotia and I accompanied them.

What was the value of participating in the IMG Clerkship program at Dalhousie?

Participating in the IMG Clerkship Program helped me overcome the barriers that international medical graduates face to practice medicine in Canada. Obtaining the Canadian MD helped me overcome obstacles that IMGs are facing through their journey. Also it helped me identify opportunities for a better integration of IMGs in the Canadian health system.

What is your intent for practicing in the province?

I plan to work in Nova Scotia as a Family Physician.

Any additional comments? 

IMG road to licensing is tough and unclear, despite the efforts of many dedicated individuals and organizations. Throughout our journey, there are many unfair and unnecessary steps, which add cost to our system and society. I also believe that hard work, perseverance and patience are the best qualities an IMG would require for success. Canada is the land of opportunities.

IMU and IMG Alumni: Where are they now? – Part 2

By: Sarah Boucaud, Global Health Office Outreach Assistant


Dr. Alison Lopez, MD (IMU – Class of 2013)

Good teachers, a great environment conducive to learning. . . These are often things we hear from our alumni. Dalhousie University and the International Medical University of Malaysia have had a partnership for over 20 years. Each year, six IMU students are eligible to complete third- and fourth-year clerkships at Dalhousie leading to a Canadian Medical Doctorate degree. The program is managed through the Glboal Health Office. See what some of our recent alumni are doing now!

Where are you originally from?Alison Lopez


Why did you choose Nova Scotia/Dalhousie?

In all honesty, transferring to Dal wasn’t part of my plan initially. I didn’t know much about Nova Scotia prior to moving here. In our med school, we rank all our partner universities and then you go through a matching system and I ended up being matched to Dal. I debated if I should go through with it since I barely knew anything about life in Canada other than it gets cold in the winter. Finally, I decided there was a reason I got matched to Dal and moved over.

What was the value of participating in the IMU Clerkship program at Dalhousie?

For me a major benefit of joining a North American school was the residency system. Where I come from, you have to do at least 2 years of intern training before applying to specialize and that can also take many years. In North America, you go into residency straight out of med school. I also was told by previous IMU students that the Dal programme gave their med students a lot of hands on experience.

Where are you currently located and what are your involved in?

I’m currently a 2nd year paediatrics resident at MUN.

What is your intent for practicing medicine?

I wish to pursue a fellowship in Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

Any additional comments?

Despite not initially planning on transferring to Dal initially, things have worked out great. It was hard work adjusting to a new med school/health care system but with time not to mention trying sort out applying for residency. It paid off in the end.