In early June I left Boston to join colleagues and Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) educators in Tanzania for the educators’ Close of Service meeting, where they wrap up their year of service. After twelve months of training and teaching, these visiting faculty members gathered to reflect on their experience, and enjoy a hard-earned celebration of their service to Tanzania’s future doctors and nurses.
I spent the days leading up to the meeting engaging with GHSP educators inside and outside of the classroom, getting to know them and learning about their experiences. Attending the Tanzania Medical Trainee Research Conference – sponsored by Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU), the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University Student Association, the University of Dodoma, and the Global Health Service Partnership – I was able to see the product of a fruitful collaboration between a dynamic HKMU Student Association and GHSP physician educators. Together they produced the first joint undergraduate and post-graduate research conference hosted at Hubert Kairuki Memorial University. The Conference was designed as an opportunity for health professions trainees to present research projects, exchange ideas, and strengthen connections within the Tanzanian medical community. The excitement and energy during the conference was palpable as students stood up in front of their peers, classmates and faculty to share their research.
I also spent some time at a neonatal resuscitation training that was being led by student “master trainers.” The trainers – who themselves had been trainees at one time – taught the nursing student attendees new skills, encouraged them to practice what they had learned, and prompted them to ask questions and interact with this new material. Watching the training was also the nursing students’ professor who herself had taken the same training a few weeks prior. She shared with me her excitement about this opportunity for her students and explained that, with this training, her students would have direct skills that they could employ in the community placements they would begin in just a few weeks.
In my conversations with the GHSP educators, we discussed the moments they would remember throughout the year, the complexity of the settings in which they and their faculty colleagues work, the hopes they have for their students, and the challenges those students face on their journey to becoming nurses, midwives and physicians.
What emerged very clearly are the personal relationships that have been formed and the bonds that will last well beyond this year of service – between GHSP educators, their faculty colleagues, and the students whom they are inspired by each day. It was truly a privilege to be part of this moment that brings together a year’s worth of experiences – both triumphs and challenges, stressors and moments of joy – and to share time with the clinicians who will one day shape health care in Tanzania, as well as the educators who helped them get there.