"The era of single disease cowboys is out": Evaluating the experiences of students, faculty, and collaborators in an interdisciplinary global health training program

Anna Kalbarczyk, Nina A. Martin, Emily Combs, Marie Ward, Peter J. Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Global Health is an inherently interdisciplinary field but overseas training in global health, particularly among health science institutions, has been an 'individual' or 'individual discipline' experience. Team-based training is an approach to global health education which is increasing in popularity; research on team-training demonstrates that teams are more productive than individuals. In 2015, the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health (CGH) developed the Global Established Multidisciplinary Sites (GEMS) program, an interdisciplinary training program which was designed to establish a new norm in global health training by bringing interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students together to identify and solve complex global health challenges. This research aims to evaluate the program's first year and contribute to the literature on interdisciplinary team training. We conducted 22 in-depth interviews with students, faculty, and local collaborators from 3 GEMS project sites. Findings were analyzed for themes through a framework approach. Results: The program exposed students, faculty, and collaborators to a wide range of disciplines in global health. Students' desire to learn how other disciplines contribute to global health solutions was an important motivator for joining GEMS; many participants including faculty and collaborators valued exposure to multiple disciplines. Mentorship and communication were a challenge across all teams in part due to members having distinct "disciplinary languages". Balancing disciplinary representation on teams and establishing work plans were also key challenges. Conclusions: Based on the data the CGH provides four recommendations for institutions developing global health interdisciplinary teams to optimize team functioning and address challenges in mentorship, language, and roles: 1) address interdisciplinary communication early, 2) develop work plans during group formation, 3) meet as a team prior to travel, and 4) establish regular check ins. This article provides first-hand reflections on interdisciplinary team experiences in a global context and provides a pathway for the development of innovative strategies in global health training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23
JournalGlobalization and health
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • Education
  • Global health
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Mentorship
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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