NTC graduates June 2016
On Friday June 10, a group of 23 enthusiastic, young health care workers participated in the closing ceremony of the 139th Netherlands course in tropical medicine and Hygiene (NTC). They finished a three month intensive course at KIT where they learned about health problems in low income countries (LMIC), public health and those organisational aspects relevant to address these issues. Many of them will immediately leave after the course to work in challenging settings. They will go to countries like India, South Africa, Tanzania.
Double graduation ceremony
The recent Ebola crisis opened the eyes of many people around the globe. There is an urgent need to address issues of health and improve the existing health systems in the developing world. Fourteen of the 23 participants did the NTC as part of their medical specialisation in International Health and Tropical Medicine (AIGT). They dedicate 2,5 years to make sure that they are equipped to work in low and middle income settings. Now they are ready to leave. A new graduate commented: “As doctors, we are educated to focus on the patient, but I now learned much more to look at the surroundings and context that is contributing to presentations of patients”. These specialists are of great value as well when they later return back to the Netherlands and help our country face the challenges that come with migration and travel of people and diseases.
Course coordinator Lisanne Gerstel: “It’s wonderful to be part of the professional journey of these dedicated health professionals. Many of them leave comfort, friends and family behind to work for a local salary in countries where day-to-day life is hampered by challenges like unreliable supply of electricity, a lack of medical equipment and scarce human resources to name a few. Their mission is similar to ours at KIT: to bring better health to those parts and people in the world that are facing the highest burdens of disease.”
A special mix
Among the graduates are also international students from India, Hong Kong, Chad, New Zealand and Pakistan. These students have started a one year Master in international health (MIH) program. They left their families and loved ones for one year to invest in their abilities to contribute to international health. They will continue their training in various partner institutes in the TropEd network and afterwards return to their home countries, more knowledgeable and equipped with more skills, which are desperately needed in the resource poor settings they want to work in.
Intercultural and interactive approach
Gerstel: “Our learning approaches include discussions, debates, case studies, role plays, simulations and serious games. It’s intense but we believe interactive and participatory learning is the best way to prepare people for the reality of the world they will face, turning theory into practice! All our participants have relevant working experience, and we use this in our classes. One of the participants wrote: “The international build-up and the different backgrounds and learning objectives of the participants made this especially interesting and I feel that I have learned a lot from my classmates.” The exchange of different views and different ways in communication between countries likely offers students great insights to incorporate in their future workplaces.
Although the closing ceremony is a happy occasion, mixed feelings are at the order of the day for family and friends. Students however feel ready. One of the graduating doctors mentioned: “I feel prepared to go abroad and discover the implications of everything lectured in the course: see the health system, recognize corruption, see and treat the diseases we talked about in the clinical lectures, notice the determinants of health and put everything in practice.”
KIT does not organize this course on its own. The NTC is jointly organized by the Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre (VU) in Amsterdam, the University Hospital of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). The tropical doctor training is organized by the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Tropische Geneeskunde (NVTG).Our Master in International Health course is organized jointly with the TropEd network of institutes from all over the world.
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