The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences. For more information, visit our program page.

Benjamin Acheampong is a current pediatric cardiology fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center He obtained his medical degree from the University of Science and Technology in Ghana.  He previously did residency in Pediatrics with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, West African College of Physicians and the Mayo Clinic graduate medical college, Rochester Minnesota. His interest in global health started in medical school where he led a team of medical students for health education and promotion programs in cocoa growing areas in Ghana. He has solely funded a community hospital in Ghana that sees 40,000 patients annually. He also undertakes bi-weekly telemedicine teaching via Skype for newly graduated doctors in some rural areas in Ghana to help with pediatric cardiology knowledge transfer. He is currently enrolled in the MPH (global health tract) at Vanderbilt University. His main interest centers on capacity building for cardiovascular care for children in underserved areas and plans to engaged in more capacity building programs after fellowship.  He will spend 3 months this summer at Cape Coast Teaching Hospital in Ghana, teaching residents and medical students and training local providers in focused cardiac imaging using handheld echocardiogram machine for the diagnosis of cardiac dysfunction in HIV infected children as part of his MPH practicum. This trip is supported by Hope through Healing hands and the division of Pediatric Cardiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

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Gretchen Edwards is a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is from Nashville, TN, and received her BS degree inBiology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC with a minor in Spanish. She completed her MD degree at Vanderbilt. She elected to stay in Nashville and pursue her general surgery training at Vanderbilt. She is currently in her third year of training and plans to obtain her Masters in Public Health during her upcoming two years of research. During her residency, she has become particularly interested in health outcomes and has a clinical interest in General Surgery. In her free time she enjoys running, hiking, and cooking. She looks forward to the opportunity to travel to and learn from the experience at Kijabe, Kenya.
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Diane Haddad is a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She was born in Amman, Jordan and moved to the United States at an early age. She received her BS in Molecular Genetics with a minor in Arabic at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She completed her MD at Boston University where she learned about the social determinants of health while caring for vulnerable populations. She completed a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship in South Africa examining barriers to prenatal care. With a commitment to building more equitable healthcare systems, she came to Nashville for her surgical training and is planning on spending her research years examining health disparities in surgical care while obtaining her MPH with a Health Policy focus. She is very excited for the opportunity to travel to Kijabe, Kenya and invest in their healthcare system.
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Tara Lane is an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Med-Peds) resident physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  She grew up outside of Philadelphia and ventured across the state to the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied Rehabilitation Science and Spanish. After college she spent two years teaching middle school science in Houston, TX through Teach for America. While she loved working in education, she decided to change paths and attend medical school at the University of North Carolina. During medical school her love for learning about new cultures sparked an interest in global health, and this was solidified when she participated in and later co-led an annual women’s health clinic in southern Honduras called the Honduran Health Alliance. She hopes to work in primary care and public health after completing residency. She is excited to travel to Lusaka, Zambia to spend time working and learning in the University Teaching Hospital.
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Taylor Matherly is a second-year Master of Public Health (Global Health Track) and Master of Education (International Education Policy & Management) dual-degree student at Vanderbilt University originally from Durham, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Linguistics and Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2013. Prior to enrolling at Vanderbilt for her graduate studies, she lived and worked in various communities in Spain. It was during this time that she began to fully recognize the interdependent nature of the relationship between education and health.

Taylor spent the summer of 2017 in Ibarra, Ecuador working at the Universidad Técnica del Norte with the education faculty in order to fulfill one of two practicum requirements for her degrees. She cannot wait to return to Latin America in June 2018 to complete her second practicum, this time focusing on child development in Managua, Nicaragua as an intern with Fundación AMOS. 

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Name: Jessica Murray

Age: 26

Major: Public Health

Concentration: Epidemiology

Universtiy: Eastern Tennessee State University 

I received a B.A. in Global Health at Arizona State University. My professional interests include global health and working with underserved communities. I have previously studied abroad in Nicaragua and England. Additionally, I am an intern for a global health non-profit, Playing to Live!, that focuses on the mental health needs of children who have experienced trauma, a research intern for my one of my professors who works in global health, and will be assisting with data analysis for mental health research project that worked with Palestinian refugees in Gaza. In 2016, I moved to Tennessee with my boyfriend and our three dogs to pursue my graduate degree.

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Jon Niconchuk is in his final year of anesthesia residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Originally from Massachusetts, he completed his undergraduate degree at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA with a major in Spanish and minor in Chemistry. He then went on to Harvard Medical School where he began working with Partners In Health on a community health worker training curriculum in his mother’s native country of Guatemala during the summer following his first year. Between his third and fourth year of medical school he took a year away from his clinical education to work as a research assistant to Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health, traveling extensively both throughout the United States and Haiti alongside Dr. Farmer throughout the year. After seeing first hand the pressing need for quality surgical and anesthesia/critical care in Haiti and elsewhere in the developing world, Jon decided to pursue anesthesia residency. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Kijabe, Kenya to continue working to expand the capacity to provide high-quality anesthesia care in East Africa and beyond. He will remain at Vanderbilt next year while completing a pediatric anesthesia fellowship.
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Carolina Pinzon-Guzman is a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is from Cali-Colombia, South America, and received her BS degree in Biomedical Science at Texas A&M University in College Station Texas. She completed her MD/PhD degree at, Pennsylvania State University in Hershey Pennsylvania. Her PhD focused on the molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in the development of the nervous system. She elected to move to Nashville to pursue general surgery training at Vanderbilt, and is currently conducting lab research in development of the esophagus and what may be the molecular mechanisms that cause esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula in neonates. She will be traveling to Kijabe, Kenya with her husband and two children who are all very excited to have this opportunity, and look forward to teaching and learning from such an incredible place.

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Monica Polcz is a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is from Delray Beach, Florida, and received her BS degree in Biochemistry at University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She completed her MD degree at Florida International University in Miami, Florida and then moved to Nashville, TN to pursue her general surgery training. She plans to dedicate two years during residency to research focused on bioengineering and surgical innovation. She is very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Kijabe, Kenya and looks forward to enhancing her surgical and personal experience there.
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Maren Shipe is a general surgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is from Everett, Washington and received her BA degree in Anthropological Sciences and Human Biology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. She completed her MD degree and her Masters of Public Health at University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, during which she spent time in Kiboga, Uganda and Naivasha, Kenya. She did her thesis work on internationally adopted children with cleft lip and palate. She is currently a third-year general surgery resident at Vanderbilt, and plans to do research in thoracic surgery next year. She enjoys spending time cooking, hiking, and watching football with her fiancé Paul.
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Greg Wykoff is an MD/MPH student at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine, currently in his final year. Although pursuing Psychiatry as a medical specialty, he has a diverse range of interests in both medicine and public health, and considers global health to be an essential issue to be addressed on all fronts, from acute care to preventative medicine and public health infrastructure. With assistance from Hope Through Healing Hands and the Frist Global Leaders Program Scholarship, he is working alongside Project Hope UK to help bring essential services to the city of Munsieville, South Africa, an under served area long-stricken with poverty and lack of access to healthcare.

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