Université de Sherbrooke’s faculty of medicine and health sciences is set to launch three new medical training projects in Haiti, to be carried out in conjunction with Université Quisqueya located in Port-au-Prince.
The faculty, which also has initiatives underway in Mali and Uruguay, has already completed 30 training missions in Haiti. “Promoting international cooperation is one of the faculty’s guiding principles,” notes Paul Grand’Maison, director of the faculty’s International Relations Office. “We see it as a matter of social responsibility. It is unthinkable that we should go about our business here at home without any regard for others elsewhere.”
One of the new projects aims to train Haitian professors in clinical teaching. “It involves developing the expertise of a few professors in the areas of training, supervision and clinical assessment – in other words, in the methods required to properly teach students who are continuing their training in the hospital environment, with real patients,” Dr. Grand’Maison explains. These doctors will then be able to share their expertise with other Haitian teachers as well as with their students.
Université de Sherbrooke is also taking part in two initiatives spearheaded by the University of Calgary. They involve developing pediatric neurology and surgery teaching with students whose training is often limited to these specialties in adult patients.
Having an impact
Taking part in international cooperation projects in a country such as Haiti is a lesson in humility. The economic, social and political problems are massive, and it will take more than a handful of professors from Université de Sherbrooke to fix them. The effects of the earthquake alone have been devastating: Two of the country’s four faculties of medicine were completely destroyed, and a number of teachers perished. The ones who survived must now divide their time between several faculties.
Once the initial shock had passed, the horrific event provided an opportunity to rethink the training and retention of physicians on Haitian soil. There is now a conference of the deans of the country’s faculties of medicine, and cooperation between them, once difficult, has become a priority. “In the current context, Université de Sherbrooke’s efforts may bear fruit,” Dr. Grand’Maison notes. “Our initiatives help Haitian professors and doctors to improve their skills and transfer their knowledge to their students.”
The Université de Sherbrooke faculty of medicine is seeking to build ties with its counterparts in Canada and the U.S. in view of carrying out larger projects within Haiti’s four faculties of medicine.