Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Kaythi Khin, a second year medical student at New York Institute of Technology – College of Osteopathic Medicine. I graduated from St. John’s University with a Biology major. I am originally from Burma, born and raised there until my family moved to New York in 2008.
What Global Health Experiences have you participated in?
My experience in Global Health is still fairly new. I was exposed to an outreach experience in the summer of 2014 when I visited Burma. I was part of this Family Mobile Clinic that goes out to the outskirts of my hometown, Yangon, and provides medical care to those who can’t afford it. Our group consisted of 20 people with three medical residents, one dental resident, a few medical scribes, and many family members that came along to help out with anything we needed. We saw about 100 villagers including monks and nuns of all ages. As a pre-med student back then, I helped out by taking vital signs and scribing.
This past summer, I went on a global outreach trip to Ghana with NYIT Center for Global Health. We stayed in Osiem, a town in Volta region of Ghana for 3 weeks. Our team had 14 medical students and 2 doctors/ professors. We donated about 500 lbs of medical supplies and equipment to Hawa Memorial Saviour Hospital and its sister clinics in Ashanti region.
Can you tell us more about your experience in Ghana?
In Ghana, we worked with Hawa Memorial Saviour Hospital. Our team was led by Dr. Passafaro and Dr. Lardner, both of whom have experience in international work. As medical students, we got a chance to work under local physicians and observed daily rounds in the ER, Maternity, Pediatrics, Male and Female wards. We also got to observe and assist in procedures such as inguinal hernia repair, cesarean sections, hysterectomy, etc.
Since malaria being endemic in the area, we also donated insecticide-treated bed nets and educated the locals on malarial prevention and control.
We also had to the opportunity to host a lecture series on various health topics such as diabetes mellitus, congenital heart defects, etc to nursing students in Osiem.
How did you find out about this opportunity? How were you able to fund your trip?
I talked to a few upperclassmen who were involved with different global health organizations. A few of the well-known organizations are Himalayan Health Exchange, Work the World, and DO Care International.
Besides these programs, NYIT-COM has its very own Center for Global Health (CGH) and they have this Global Health Certificate Program which consists of three courses; 1) Global Health Core Course – addresses critical issues in GH, cultural and health disparity, infectious diseases and tropical medicine, 2) Fieldwork – Ghana, Haiti or Costa Rica for 2-4 weeks 3) Global Health
Kaythi Khin-Global Health Spotlight
Research. This course offers 9 credits which can be used later on if you wish to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
In addition to my interest in pursuing MPH, I figured it is really important to have a proper understanding of issues we are facing in Global Health so I decided to go with this program. There was a $1000 scholarship grant from NYIT CGH this year which you can apply for but I unfortunately missed the deadline. I pretty much funded my trip with federal loans. I do know a few people who fundraised for their trips and it worked out well for them!
What was one specific experience during your trip that really stuck with you? What was the most difficult part of your trip?
We didn’t encounter any major obstacles during our trip. It was definitely hard getting used to the heat and the change in food at first. But we got used to it after a few days.
One experience from this trip that really stuck with me was getting to know the locals. I made some friends while I was there. Among them was this one girl who I got to know more than others, specifically how she grew up, and what her family is like. Through her, I got to understand Ghanaian culture and tradition a bit more. Plus, it was just really nice to know that you can still connect with someone on a personal level despite the cultural differences and language barrier.
What draws you to Global Health?
Since I was young, I’ve always had this dream to travel around the world but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I realized there is something better than just traveling; traveling for a cause! I went to Paris with my theology class – it was a service learning trip where we not only learned about the culture and explored the city, but we also devoted our time helping those that were less fortunate. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow.
It is quite similar to Global Health trips. It is traveling for a great cause. There are so many healthcare disparities and inequalities across the world. Growing up in Burma, I experienced first-hand how healthcare is a privilege and it has always been my dream to make healthcare accessible to areas that are in need. But I feel like we don’t really understand what is actually happening in those areas unless you experience them first-hand. I think that Global Health closes that gap of knowledge and helps us understand why certain areas are underserved, and how we can improve them. In addition, it’s a big bonus that it brings people from different backgrounds together.
Do you have any advice for other students interested in Global Health?
I can’t comment much on funding, but your school may have scholarships available. If not, youcan do what I did; contacted financial aid office and applied for additional loans!
Make sure you do a lot of research on where you want to travel to, which organization you want to travel with. Your safety is very important. Reach out to people with previous experience. They will be more than happy to share their good/bad experience with you. Also, plan ahead. There may be a lot of paperwork regarding visas or vaccines depending on where you are going. Once you’ve decided on where you want to travel to, learning their culture ahead of the time is definitely helpful. You don’t want to get there and do something that can be offensive in other cultures.
Once you are there, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, get to know the locals, learn their lifestyles and help out! You’ll have a great time!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!