Creating a Program in Global Health

Introduction
Brooke Maggy, Plymouth State University IDS Major

What makes your major interdisciplinary? When creating your interdisciplinary studies contract, it is important to understand why you are creating it in the first place. Interdisciplinary studies is not about combining some courses to graduate on time, it is about pursuing your passion through education that pertains to you. With the creation of your IDS contract, comes the reasons to why this major is important to you and how you arrived at this important decision that will help pave the way to your desired profession. In Global Health by Kate Dasey, she provides a great example of how an interdisciplinary studies contract essay should be created. In Kate’s essay she includes, in detail, her passion about global health and why this contract will ultimately propel her in reaching her career goals. She describes each course in her contract and how it pertains to her major. By doing so, she is blending these courses in what is known as an interdisciplinary smoothie, not a fruit salad.

Some questions may arise before or during the essay portion of the IDS contract process that can be better understood after reading Kate’s post. When writing your contract, you must remember you are submitting it to a board of professors. This being said, this essay should be formal and somewhat to the point. In the post below, Kate is direct but adds in other information to why she chose this path to give the reader a more personable feel to understand her reasoning and passion. The essay should also be clear of any spelling and grammar mistakes. When describing each course, it is best to not restate the course description, but to explain why it pertains to your major and the benefits you will receive by taking said courses. By making the course titles bold, the board can easily see what courses are included and match them up with your IDS contract. Ultimately, this essay is in place to solidify the reasons for your course selections.

Lastly, be confident! By being an interdisciplinary studies major, the passion you have is seen throughout your course work. After the completion of this arduous process of creating the perfect contract, you are given the freedom to pursue your dreams and ambitions. You are no longer held captive by the restrictions of a single discipline. You are an individual with your own unique passions and can now express them through an individualized education.

Global Health
Kate Dasey, Plymouth State University IDS Major

Kate holding a young childAs an aspiring Global Health major I have been eager to research, educate myself, and establish a program of study integrating the concepts of illness, wellness, and healing among people in todays society. I will be able to demonstrate this through study of different societies and cultures, specifically on the health conditions of those people. The main goal of a global health professional is to work to implement programs that protect the health of individuals, families and communities in the United States and abroad, while simultaneously educating communities. Global Health addresses the well-being of people, ranging from high to low income countries and developing countries. The concerns within them include infectious disease as well as chronic and non-infectious diseases, age-related illnesses, and disaster relief conditions. In addition to more common health conditions, Global Health works with mental illness, trauma, violence, war and displacement. Another key focus in global health is the organization, financing and management of health service systems. Global Health experts help developing countries to establish and implement effective and efficient health care programs.

One of Kate's photos of El SalvadorIn addition to being a Global Health major, I am an avid member of a charity known as Epilogos. As an organization, we improve the health, education and natural resources of El Salvador, a country that has fought against the harsh conditions of economic poverty. I have been a volunteer at this organization for four years and it has given me a new outlook toward how we must see health in a global aspect. I created this major to explore the history and present day issues of health in the United States as well as in other countries, specifically those still in stages of development. Is there a common theme for health conditions among third world countries? I chose to create a Global Health program because of the poor health conditions I have witnessed during my mission work. Originally, I came to Plymouth State University to become a nurse, but lost myself along the way. It didn’t feel like I was living up to my full potential as a student, but I am still dead set on working in the health care field and helping others. It wasn’t until entering Interdisciplinary Studies that I regained my confidence as a student. It was the first time that I felt a sense of passion when choosing my classes, taking extreme pride when I receiving back an exam or research paper I had beat myself over. This is the first time I feel as if I am beginning a journey toward an exciting future.

For the Global Health major, I have strategically chosen eighteen different courses, ranging from the departments of biology, health and human performance, and social science. The collaboration of these courses has molded my contract into a Global Health career path. Prior to reading my course work, it is important to know that, although it is not listed on my course contract, I am currently in the process of completing a Spanish Linguistics minor. This is key to my career path in Global Health because I will be spending a great deal of time in Spanish- speaking countries. It is an important tool to have when working in a health care setting when working with people who do not understand english. Starting with the Health and Human Performance classes, Principles of Health is a course that lays out the foundation for health. It teaches students how to analyze all aspects of health and implements different models of health promotion in order improve one’s daily living. This is important because it teaches students, when working with clients, to help resolve underlying issues to one’s unhealthy habits. Health Promotion Planning and Evaluation is a segway from Principles of Health. At a higher level, students learn how to create promotion/education programs for communities, requiring extra hours outside of class constructing a solid plan incorporating organization skills, marketing, data analysis, and continuous documentation. This is important because, in order to work toward conquering issues world-wide you must start small, targeting communities and building a stronger basis as time moves forward. Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living addresses the main components of nutrition in which are important to an individual’s everyday living. It focuses on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle or the consequences of improper nutrition. A person may be struggling with sickness based on the food he or she eats but continues simply because her or she is unaware. This course teaches people the importance of properly fueling your body in order to avoid sickness.

Lastly for the grouping of Health and Human Performance, is Women’s Health Issues, this course is designed similar to most health classes because it is about is keeping a balanced mental and social wellbeing, but it also branches off into the specifics of women’s health. This includes sexual abuse, reproductive health, eat disorders, and drug addiction. Women’s health is popular due to maternal and child health being a high priority for global health professionals. In the developing world, there is a significant lack of access to good prenatal and obstetric care, resources for treatable childhood illnesses, such as diarrhea and respiratory infections. In addition, scarce access to education on safe sex practices in regards to family planning. Next in the Biology department, Human Anatomy & Physiology (lecture and lab, 1&2) teaches you the basic framework and function of the human body. Getting a hands on experience on how our body’s vital organs and designated systems work is important for health care workers to understand the basic human anatomy. Each function is a new step in the developmental stages of the body, teaching the mishaps that go wrong as our bodies grow and adapt to the environment. Genetics for Nurses is course that has made progress in the way healthcare professionals approach patients. Understanding the role of genetics has modernized the treatment of disease, by analyzing one’s genetics health care professionals can help diagnose a problem prior to one’s knowledge of the problem becoming present. This is key in the prevention of unhealthy living and promotes a safer way to screen a person for a potential setback they are able to meet head on. The last course in my contract related to biology is Microbiology for Nurses. This focuses on the importance of microorganisms and their effects on disease, but also their use to create solutions. Students are taught the importance on the spread of disease and how common this is throughout one’s daily living. As for the courses in the social science department, I’ll start with Illness, Wellness, and Healing because it parallels with the biology classes. This course takes an in-depth look at different societies and compares their concepts of illness, wellness, and healing alongside other cultures, essentially researching common themes that may be an underlying problem globally. This course also compares and contrasts the presence of disease from past historical events to modern day times. In order to analyze certain societies and cultures, the course Foundations of Sociology is an important framework to learn the basics when researching topics of race, gender, religion, politics, and social class. Similarly, the course Cultural Anthropology focuses globally on the study of humans and their culture. Within this study, linguistics, culture, physical appearance and archaeology are underlying themes. because it focuses on the nature of language, how it is used in certain situations, when it is used in and out of context as well as how a language has developed over time. What is key to this course is understanding how a language may shape a society or individual. As a health professional you must be able to adapt and accommodate those who speak a different language and practice a different culture. An important course to take in order to better one’s understanding of this is Cultural Diverity and America. The concepts of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, religion and sexual orientation are studied deeply, and the challenges/conflicts that have arose from them overtime.

In order to immerse yourself in another’s culture, you must be able to analyze their personality through the developmental process. By taking Life-Span Development Psychology, you are able to assess individuals physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Lastly to conclude my course contract are two classes in which students learn how to implement forms of public policy. In American Foreign Policy, you learn the importance of the relationships between the U.S and other countries regarding domestic politics and foreign politics. This is important in global health because the U.S is a prime contributor in distributing aid to other countries near and far. In Public Policy Analysis (WRCO), knowledge is obtained through the public policy process. Through this process, students learn how problems are defined, agendas are formed and how to evaluate the process of a policy.

A picture of Kate, another student, and a young childGlobal Health is considered interdisciplinary because it involves knowledge from an array of field studies. The collaboration of course work from health & human performance, biology, social science, as well as political science work in tandem to mold the framework of Global Health. In addition, my program is considered interdisciplinary because of my Spanish minor. This gives me the freedom to travel and work with individuals in different countries but also work here in the United States due to the fact that the Spanish language is largely prominent. This program will prepare me for my future because it will teach me the skills to qualify for a job in the health care field which is always in demand and importantly without this major I would not be able to purse a Master’s Degree in Public Health. Ultimately, with this degree, I hope to work for a non-governmental agency, specifically disaster relief or refugee organizations. Global Health will prepare me for an exciting journey I have always hoped for, exploring studies of health while helping and interacting with individuals along the way.