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Global Initiatives

Global Learning Experiences

UNMC Students in Rwanda, 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology, photographer Kyle Johnson, MD

Fourth-year medical students Meg Rolfzen, Sarah Larsen, and Tori Wadman pose with Joseph Rwandema, second from right, in front of Gitwe Hospital. Each year, 3-6 outstanding medical students are selected to spend a month learning about the Rwandan health care system.


Rwanda Elective

This course was offered through UNMC’s Departments of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics for first- and fourth-year medical students interested in global health.

In 2015, Andrew Patterson, MD, and Megan Chacon, MD, of the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology traveled to Gitwe, Rwanda, to meet with physicians at Gitwe Hospital and explore the opportunity of a surgical, clinical, and educational program. Through that meeting, the Rwanda elective program was created, and the first student trip occurred in October 2016.  
Through the program, students participated in hospital rounds and visited rural community health centers, as well as participated in obstetric care. The experience immersed students in the health care system of Rwanda, focusing specifically on rural, low-resource environments. The primary goal was to encourage students to integrate international health care into their career. Gitwe Hospital is a small district hospital serving eight health centers in the Ruhango District. Students also spent time at the University of Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK) in the capital city of Kigali. CHUK offers greater choice in specialty elective rotation and a more academic teaching environment.


Muhima Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda, 2018

Courtesy of Victoria Nakibuuka-Muli, MPA, MPH, global education and research programs administrator, UNMC Department of Pediatrics

In 2017, UNMC’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease developed partnerships supporting the Community-Acquired Blood Stream Infections in Rwanda (CABSiR) Project. The project aims to evaluate Blood Stream Infections (BSI) in children with clinical sepsis in Gitwe, Nyamata, and Kigali.


Clinical Work in Rwanda, 2018

Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology, photographer Faye Haggar, EdD

UNMC anesthesiologist Cale Kassel, MD, administers medication in the operating room of Gitwe Hospital. Clinical trips focus on performing goiter excisions, which are a critical need in the area.




UNMC Medical Students in India, c. 2018

Courtesy of Chandrakanth Are, MD, UNMC Department of Surgery

Initially, the exchange between UNMC and India focused on students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana coming to UNMC for training opportunities. In 2018, four students from UNMC attended the first four-week rotation in India. From left, Alyssa Malley, MD, Jennifer Shehan, MD, Apollo Stack, MD, Ashley Janssen, MD, and Chandrakanth Are, MD.


India Elective

This four-week course is an immersion into India's health care system with onsite exposure to oncologic surgical care.

UNMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Directorate of Medical Education in Andhra Pradesh, India in 2009. The MOU created a partnership with Osmania Medical College allowing for an exchange of students, resident physicians, and faculty. Since 2009, the partnership has grown to include various hospitals in the city of Hyderabad, Telangana, India, and other hospitals in the states of Telangana and Andhra. Chandrakanth Are, MD, UNMC’s Jerald L. & Carolynn J. Varner professor of surgical oncology and global health, played an integral part in establishing this collaboration.

The focus of the rotation is two-fold. First, the intra-operative experience with exposure to various oncologic surgical procedures including neurosurgery, head/neck, breast, pulmonary/thoracic, liver/pancreas, gynecologic, urologic, and colorectal. Second, students have time for additional travel and cultural experiences to develop a global perspective on healthcare and human beings that is critical for physicians-in-training.  




UNMC Students and Faculty in Xalapa, Mexico, c. 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

In June 2019, UNMC students in the inaugural Medical Spanish and Global Health Course in Xalapa, Mexico, visited the Mayan Ruins with their tour guide.


Medical Spanish and Global Health Course

This program is an immersion Spanish language study with onsite exposure to primary and community health care in a developing country.

The Office of Global Engagement (OGE) introduced the four-week Medical Spanish and Global Health course in Guatemala in 2000, and was subsequently moved to Nicaragua from 2009 to 2018. In 2019, a new partnership was established with Universidad Anáhuac Xalapa in Xalapa, Mexico.

The course offers two phases. Phase I provides three weeks of one-on-one instruction in the Spanish language, supplemented with six health lectures by local medical professionals, and weekend field trips. The final week of Phase I offers hands-on experience at local health facilities in Xalapa. The Phase II course includes one week of intensive Spanish instruction followed by three weeks of clinical exposure at local medical facilities.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the course was redesigned in 2021 to allow U.S.-based UNMC students to participate in Spanish language classes, 30 hours per week for three weeks, via Zoom, with one-on-one instruction from linguistic professors from the partner university in Xalapa. During the final week, the students delivered presentations about delivery of health care to members of Omaha's Latino population.




SAGH Medical Service Trip, c. 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

Erin Oeltjen, a 1st year medical student, works on a vision screening project at an elementary school in Colombia during a SAGH Medical Service trip.

Student Alliance for Global Health

The Student Alliance for Global Health (SAGH) is a multi-disciplinary organization founded in 1995 on UNMC's campus to focus on service and international health care.

SAGH’s mission is to bring together UNMC students, faculty, and the surrounding community to learn about global health issues and encourage involvement in efforts to support global health initiatives at home and abroad. The organization arranges monthly speakers and informative presentations on global health and medicine. Along with the Office of Global Engagement (OGE), SAGH sponsors a philanthropy project every year and offers Medical Spanish language classes on campus. The 2018-2019 philanthropy project focused on raising awareness and fundraising for the Fistula Foundation. In 2019-2020, SAGH’s philanthropy project supported Aqua-Africa, a non-profit headquartered in Omaha.  

Since 1996, SAGH has offered medical service spring break trips to various locations locally and internationally. One such location is the Falmouth Medical Clinic in Falmouth, Jamaica, a partnership SAGH has maintained since 1997. SAGH also frequently offers trips to Nicaragua and local Native American reservations. In 2019, a new partnership was established in Colombia. For 2020, trips were scheduled for Jamaica, Colombia, and the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska. These trips were subsequently cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.




Wael ElRayes, MBBCh, PhD, c. 2019

Courtesy of UNMC Department of Strategic Communications, photographer Kent Seivers

The Nebraska Fulbright Chapter was established by Dr. ElRayes, assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Fulbright Scholar Program principal investigator. Dr. ElRayes is also the UNMC Fulbright Scholar liaison. 

Fulbright Scholars

For more than 20 years, UNMC has participated in the Fulbright Program, hosting fellows from countries across the world.

The Fulbright Act was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Currently, the Fulbright Program is active in more than 160 countries worldwide and partners with participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States.
UNMC was named a Fulbright US Scholar Program Top Producing Institution for the 2019-2020 academic year by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in recognition for producing the most Fulbright U.S. Scholars for the academic year. In 2020, UNMC had twelve enrolled Fulbright students from Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The Nebraska Fulbright Chapter was established in April 2019 to provide scholars, alumni, and staff opportunities for networking, professional development, mentoring, cultural enrichment, and community service. It plans to connect with communities across Nebraska to promote the Fulbright Scholar Programs.




Shirley F. Delair, MD, MPH, c. 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Strategic Communications

Dr. Delair is director of the Pediatric Residency Global Health Track Program. She is also an associate professor in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UNMC.


Global Health Track Experience in Nicaragua, 2017

Courtesy of Aleisha Nabower, MD

Aleisha Nabower, MD, completed the Global Health Residency Track, spending one month in Nicaragua rotating with NICU staff. Now assistant professor of Pediatrics at UNMC, Dr. Nabower is pictured here (far left) with Francisco Rodriguez, MD, Brigit Cuarezma, MD, and NICU staff in Masaya, Nicaragua.


Pediatric Residency Global Health Track

UNMC's Department of Pediatrics started providing a global health track to residents in 2015 to learn more about the global aspects of pediatric care.

The track's mission is to create a multi-disciplinary effort that engages residents and faculty, locally and internationally, through education, research, service, and the development of longitudinal partnerships. These partnerships are aimed at reducing health disparities in children in the U.S. and abroad by gaining a better understanding of the social, cultural, and human factors that affect health.

The Department of Pediatrics partners with programs in Colombia, Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Panama. Residents on this track can conduct their rotation in these countries at no cost. Residents may also explore alternative international sites as well as local global health options such as the Indian Health Service in Nebraska or alternative sites in vulnerable communities in the U.S. Since 2015, four medical students have completed Pediatric Global Health M4 electives and two to three residents per year have completed the Global Health Certificate program. The program in the past has also facilitiated two faculty observerships at UNMC with partners in Rwanda.




College of Nursing International Programs

The College of Nursing (CON) offers study abroad experiences in several countries including China, Norway, Sweden, Oman, Jordan, and throughout Central America. The goal for students in these programs is to expand their understanding of being a global citizen and to observe the similarities and differences in nursing roles, educational preparation, and health care systems. Through these experiences, students gain an appreciation for other cultures to better serve and understand different populations at home and abroad.



Omaha ISRF Contingent, c. 2019

Courtesy of Jayme Nekuda, PhD, UNMC Department of Human Resources

Eight UNMC students and one University of Nebraska at Omaha student attended the 12th annual ISRF. Pictured left to right Jocelyn Herstein, Shashank Shrishrimal, Jeffrey Moffat, Rachel (Utter) Harris, Jayme Nekuda, PhD, Keith Swarts, Krysten Vance, Zijian Qin, Matthew Martens, Richard Sleightholm, and Justin Grassmeyer.


International Student Research Forum

Held annually since 2005 at sites around the globe, the International Student Research Forum (ISRF) has provided outstanding development opportunities for graduate students and their growing circles of colleagues.

The mission of the ISRF is to provide an international stage for graduate research students to collaborate beyond the lines of disciplines and nationalities. The forum aims to attract the world’s brightest upcoming scientists and provides an opportunity to showcase world-class education and research. By building relationships with international colleagues at these forums, students are forging connections that can positively yield scientific advances that affect countless people around the world.
Each year, the ISRF brings together top doctorate students from at least five different countries and universities. Ten students are selected from each university to participate in the forum. In 2019, one of UNMC’s participants, Zijian Qin, a College of Public Health doctoral candidate, was part of the winning team of the $10 Challenge, which mixes students into groups from different countries. The teams are asked to identify important public health challenges, and come up with and present ideas for impactful, low cost, innovative, and technically feasible solutions using existing technology only.