Students Across Disciplines Collaborate on Global Health Case Competition
A team of students hold certificates for Best Teamwork at the Dec. 4 case competition in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center. From left to right, Grant Horton, an undergraduate nursing student; Amanda Swanson, a School of Dentistry student; and Christina Orantes, a School of Medicine student. (Photo by Meg Zomorodi)
This fall, a new course offered by the UNC School of Nursing challenged undergraduate and graduate students from across disciplines to solve a complex global problem related to refugee health and wellness.
Students in N625, “Global and Interprofessional Approaches to Solve Complex Cases,” worked in four interdisciplinary teams to answer a prompt based on the fictional case of a Burmese refugee whose treatable medical condition progresses due to a lack of access to healthcare. The prompt asked students to develop one-year and five-year plans to improve conditions for North Carolina refugee communities in a proposal to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
The teams presented their proposals on December 4, 2021, to a panel of judges who ranked the teams in four categories: best overall presentation, best demonstration of teamwork, best innovative idea and best strategy to address social determinants of health.
“Although the students had the same case, the solutions they came up with were very different,” said Marianne Baernholdt, associate dean for global initiatives and professor in the School of Nursing. Baernholdt instructed the course with Meg Zomorodi, assistant provost for interprofessional education and practice and professor in the School of Nursing.
The course provided a foundation for students to be part of one of two UNC-Chapel Hill teams participating in national case competitions with a global or interprofessional focus in Spring 2022. All Carolina undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply to be part of the team. More details on applications are to come, but interested students may contact Baernholdt or Zomorodi.
This course highlighted the intersection between global and local health that students recognized as a valuable learning opportunity.
“Prior to this class, other courses I have taken focused mainly on global health as an exotic issue, which took place in other countries, but not in the U.S.; I did not have the understanding of global health as something that could be local,” said Ava Freeman, an undergraduate interdisciplinary studies student.
Students also appreciated the opportunity to work with peers across disciplines and levels of study.
“The strong emphasis on teamwork and collaboration both within and across disciplines has prepared me to work with other members of a healthcare team to identify and address the specific needs of a diverse patient population and work towards improving health equity,” said Freeman.
“Our team is made up of undergraduate students, a doctor of audiology student, a medical student and a dental student,” said Sarah Morgan, a graduate student in the School of Dentistry. “We have found ways to utilize all of our unique talents and knowledge bases through analyzing [them] at the beginning of class, delegating tasks accordingly and communicating regularly and openly through Zoom meetings.”
The Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs co-sponsored the Dec. 4 competition.
“N625 is preparing Carolina students to be global leaders who collaborate with experts across different disciplines to tackle complex problems with nuance and an understanding of the global context,” said Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs and chief global officer. “I am so pleased to be able to provide support for this case competition from the Chancellor’s Global Education Fund.”
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