A buffet dinner opened the evening, which was followed by lectures in the Oliphant-Marshall Auditorium.
The keynote speaker was Hugh Taylor, MD, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne, who received the equivalent of a knighthood from the government of Australia in 2003 for his achievements in ophthalmic care for the aboriginal peoples.
He encouraged physicians-in-training to think about serving populations as they advocate for their individual patients. “And you will be much more successful,” he reminded them, “if you collect good data on health needs before you ask anyone to give you financial support.” There is no substitute, he told his audience, “for going out to remote areas to find the patients where they live and work.” It took many years and many conferences with legislators in Canberra, the capital of Australia, before he could convince the government to support his work. Judging by the results, their investment has been richly redeemed.
As part of his stay at Kellogg as 2016 scholar-in-residence, Dr. Taylor breakfasted with medical students, ophthalmology residents and fellows. Second year ophthalmology resident David Sanders, MD, MPH, reported that “Dr. Taylor reminded me why I want to devote part of my career to international health.”
Kellogg ophthalmologist Ariane Kaplan, MD, director of ophthalmology programs for U-M medical students, moderated the evening.
Joseph Kolars, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives and director of U-M’s Global REACH program, came to the podium to salute ophthalmology’s wide-ranging programs in international health.
Tania Piotrowski, administrative director of Global REACH, provided a succinct overview of the many opportunities for medical students to become involved in overseas projects. At the close of the evening, several students came to her for more details about how and where they might apply for sessions abroad.
Nita Valikodath, U-M fourth year medical student, gave a stirring report on how the Aravind Eye Hospital System in Madurai, India trains mid-level ophthalmic personnel. These young women, with no professional or technical background, quickly become adept at screening patients and preparing them for surgery.
Geoffrey Thun, U-M Associate Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Research, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, described the challenges he faced in designing the “eye clinic in a container” for Kellogg’s collaboration in Jamaica with the Eye Health Institute. This unique project is funded by U-M’s Third Century Initiative, which aims to develop innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches to teaching and scholarship in a rapidly changing environment. Prepared for shipment across oceans in a container, the structure was assembled by Jamaican workers near Negril. It provides an air-conditioned suite not merely for eye examinations, but also for preparation of eye glasses, vaccinations, and health information for the community. Having overcome the obstacles of building the prototype, Dr. Thun is looking to replicate the model for other underserved venues abroad.