Daniel Rhee (Class of 2013)
Daniel Rhee, in center, is now a fourth-year medical student, and is in the United States for his fourth-year electives. He is also the secretary general for the International Federation of Medical Students, part of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). When he was a second-year student , Daniel was president of the AMSA chapter at the Medical School for International Health (MSIH). The AMSA chapter supports the work of various student groups at MSIH, and provides opportunities to learn of and engage in healthcare advocacy initiatives around the world.
Daniel spent his summer break between his first and second year of medical school working as a Malaria Analyst for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in South Africa. The group works closely with the Department of Health of South Africa to improve interventions in HIV and malaria, and their latest project is a cross-border malaria initiative with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Daniel’s role was to identify candidates to become representatives of the three countries, draft documents that defined procedures and policies for this governance mechanism, and populate sections of the grant proposal relevant to regional oversight.
Raj and Sanjai Dayal (class of 2013)
Sanjai Dayal and his brother Raj have a lot in common, and share that special bond that only twins do. But they each decided to enroll in the Medical School for International Health independently, although it was no surprise to either of them that they did, as they both did their undergraduate work at the University of Ottawa. As Sanjai recounted “I first found out about the MSIH from a physician that I met while visiting New York. I checked out the website, viewed videos of MSIH on youtube.com, and spoke with Canadian alumni who had attended MSIH. I knew in my heart that the MSIH was the best school for me, and believe me, on my interview day, I was the most nervous of all of my interviews, because I wanted to attend here so badly”.
Brother Raj agreed: “While we are similar in so many ways, we are also different enough that I had to investigate the school for myself. I’m currently interested in primary care, and Sanjai is leaning towards psychiatry and the mental health field. But we found that MSIH was perfect for both of us. We are both interested in global health, we both wanted to study abroad, and we both love to explore.”
When asked about the weather, they both said, almost simultaneously: “We sure don’t miss the Ottawa winter! In Beer Sheva, the winter is perfect. We can always exercise outside, whereas in Ottawa, its -30 below (Celsius) and there is four feet of snow on the ground.”
And what was it like to spend their first Christmas away from their native Canada? They both decided to stay in Israel, while many of their friends returned home for the holidays. Sanjay spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, while Raj was in Jerusalem, and then they went to Petra, Jordan, which has been called one of the new seven wonders of the world. “And there is still so much of Israel and this area that I haven’t seen, like the Dead Sea, that I am looking forward to visiting soon,” commented Sanjai.
What is it about the MSIH that makes it so special? Sanjai likes the small city feel, the close proximity to underserved populations, and the small class size, Raj likes how accessible his professors are, and both agree it’s because the administration and students are so friendly and warm. “I know all my classmates, and you can get to know the professors really well. They invite us to lunch, and to dinner, and it gives us a chance to learn outside of the classroom,” said Raj. “And the classes are not huge; I’ve been in lecture halls in college with a three hundred students, and this year my whole class is forty students. This allows our class to be a close-knit group, and I get a lot of face time with professors,” added Sanjai. Click here to view the MSIH Canadian student Fact sheet.
Irene Koplinka-Loehr (class of 2014)
Irene, one of the three recipients of first-year scholarships for the entering class of 2010, is a 2010 graduate of Carleton College with a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art. She was able to complete all of her prerequisite science courses while at Carleton, compete on a varsity level in cross country and track, and participate in many volunteer activities. As HOPE Center Program Director, Irene acted as a liaison between Carleton and the Center, which is a resource center for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse. She publicized and organized training sessions and provided support for student volunteers. She also completed training and was certified as an EMT-B to provide directed pre-hospital care.
Irene’s experience with cross-cultural communications began as a child when her family lived with the Innu community in Newfoundland, Canada. As her parents worked with the community to provide youth development support, Irene was exposed to the cultural clash between the Innu and Western systems, and saw how the influence of Western culture affected the lives of the Innu people.
Her awareness and respect for other cultures continued in 2008 when she was able to volunteer at the Sulayman Junkung General Hospital in Gambia in western Africa, where she collaborated with other volunteers to develop health awareness programs, and implement HIV/AIDS testing and education.
Irene participated in the MSIH's first year blog, as blogger of the month for February 2011, and also blogged about her reflections on The Healer's Art, an elective course for first-year students which helps prepare medical students for the emotional toll of medical practice.
Tobin Greensweig (class of 2014), seen at left, and J onah Mink, MD ('12) are staying in Israel over the summer while collaborating on a project to improve medical services to refugees in Israel. While doing a global health elective in Tel Aviv, which involved working with patients in the Israeli Ministry of Health’s Refugee Clinic, Jonah saw that despite the best intentions, files often went missing, or the internet connection to the Department of Health would go down. This clinic, which is funded by the Israeli government and the Israel Medical Association, is staffed with volunteers, so patients may never be treated by the same physician twice. And the files were stored based on a patient ID number, which made searching for information for a returning patient very difficult.
Many patients arrive at the clinic via the bus station in Levinsky Park with advanced chronic diseases, infectious diseases such as malaria, or gunshot wounds suffered en route to Israel. Seeing the public health concerns led Jonah and Tobin, who are also members of ROI Community, a global network of Jewish innovators founded by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, to take their knowledge of other healthcare systems in the world and apply it to this problem.
Tobin, who is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, has experience working with electronic medical records in the third world. Together they drafted a proposal for a project to implement electronic medical records, using software that is easily customized for the clinic’s needs.
The Electronic Medical Records for Refugees in Israel project was launched in May 2012, and is currently being tested in the Tel Aviv Refugee Clinic. Tobin and Jonah are training staff and volunteers to use the new system onsite as well as through YouTube videos and training guides that they developed. They are also launching a program to train nurses from the refugee community to use the EMR system for coordinating patient appointments, diagnoses and treatments.