|October 29, 1999||Volume 7, Number 5|
Ramsden promotes world as medical students lab
Vivian Ramsden, Research Co-ordinator in the U of S Dept. of Family Medicine, has just been appointed to the newly created post of Liaison Officer for International Development with the College of Medicine.
The appointment caps years of increasing involvement by Ramsden in fostering international contacts and "learnings" for this Universitys medical students and she thinks it marks a jump-off point to a new time of developing even more of those invaluable contacts.
The nurse and research professional got involved with international work when the U of S hosted an international conference on stroke prevention in 1993.
From there, the stroke program here became a World Health Organization "collaborating centre", and Ramsden went for the first time to India in 199t as a visiting professor.
Then in 1994 the U of S College of Nursing signed an agreement with the Omayal Achi College of Nursing in Chennai (formerly Madras), a city in southern India with a population of 12 million.
That association has mushroomed into many things: Ramsden has published a book on nursing practice in India; and, in July 1998 and July 1999, two small groups of U of S medical students have gone for six-week stints to Chennai and rural India to study practice there.
"Its not a credit program; its over and above," Ramsden says, noting the eight students in 1998 paid their own way and the five in 1999 received just enough funding to defray most of the cost of the airfare.
The students have been hosted by the Omayal Achi College of Nursing as they pursue "collaborative work from an interdisciplinary approach."
Starting with the 1999 bunch, the students do research projects to focus their work in India like qualitative studies on acupuncture effectiveness, tuberculosis management, and back surgery effectiveness.
Ramsden says the exchanges and the studies aim to help transfer knowledge about practice between the Canadian and Indian practitioners, and give the U of S medical students an insight into how, with little money, the rural Indian health care delivery can teach us better practice for places like northern Saskatchewan.
"As a result, we are in the process of compiling the five projects that have gone on, by the five students who went to India in July 1999," she says.
They will present the findings to the Sixth Canadian Conference on International Health, in Ottawa in November.
"Its been a real positive experience for both sides of the project" The U of S and the Omayal Achi College.
"The groups (of medical students) went to India for six weeks, and they spent three weeks in Chennai and three weeks at a tree plantation on top of a mountain so they got to do some rural and some urban work," Ramsden says.
"As I look at what were going in Saskatchewan and what I know were doing in southern India, the similarities far outweigh the differences ... and things like tuberculosis, hypertension and diabetes are the same."
"So, when you look at Syndrome X, what they do in India and what we do here are very different, but maybe we can take some learnings from India and apply them here so its a very two-way-street approach, and our goal is to keep the bridge open," Ramsden says.
She says the U of S students build research skills and invaluable international learnings, while hopefully theyre also imparting some of what we know to the nursing and medical communities in India.
"The students collected all of their data there (in India), and now they have to marry it to what they know to be the guidelines and understandings here," Ramsden says.
Her new appointment means this kind of activity "will get bigger," she says.
She was already off to China this month to help implement an agreement between the College of Medicine and the Norman Bethune Health Sciences University there.
And India and China are just the start.
Ramsden says shes also looking at developing a memorandum of understanding with an institution in Singapore, "and I think there are opportunities in South America, and Ive been making some connections."
The world is quickly becoming a classroom and research laboratory for the University of Saskatchewans medical students.
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