The Office of International Medical Education played a critical role in helping a UAB medical student take steps closer to achieving her dream of becoming a surgeon, researcher, and global health advocate, who aspires to address global disease burdens that can be attributed to surgically treatable conditions.
Each year, medical students search for global education opportunities to gain practical experience and help the underserved throughout the world. Kathrin Zimmerman, a third-year medical student, was no exception and received an unprecedented opportunity to support her global education dreams. Zimmerman was awarded a position as a Paul Farmer Global Surgery Research Associate in Harvard Medical School’s Global Surgery and Social Change program, but she had to raise the funds to pay for the position.
“This is a dream opportunity that will allow me to strengthen my research skills and clinical repertoire while providing me with networking opportunities that will be a catalyst in my pursuit of a career as a surgeon, researcher, and global health advocate,” Zimmerman said.
She worked closely with the UAB Office of International Medical Education and was awarded a $12,000 scholarship to help make her dream a reality. IME administrators also provided support by initiating contact with other UAB scholarship entities as well as private benefactors to help Zimmerman raise the remaining balance. Zimmerman also received support from UAB Financial Aid, Caduceus Club, the SOM Office of Scholarly Activity, the SOM Office of the Associate Dean for Students, the Sparkman Center for Global Health, and personal donations.
Zimmerman's opportunity comes at a crucial time in the development of global medicine as there is presently a global shortage of trained surgeons. In fact, studies have shown that an estimated 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed each year to save the lives of and prevent disabilities in low- and middle-income people in impoverished countries, who are perishing from appendicitis, fractures, obstructed labor, and other easily treatable conditions.
“The perceptions of many U.S. medical students of global surgery contradict with current evidence and literature, which may have implications for their career choices," said Majd Zayzafoon, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, assistant dean of International Medical Education. "Opportunities to improve students' global health knowledge and awareness of global surgery will dramatically improve and advance the surgical career of our students and help them become future leaders in surgery. We wholeheartedly thank the donors who enabled Kathrin to begin this path and invite all of our friends and partners who care about the future of our medical students to support the global aspirations of our UAB medical students.”
With generous support from a private donor, IME has also now established a UAB Global Surgery Scholarship to encourage and support future rising third-year medical students in their dreams of becoming global surgeons and to play a more intentional role in addressing the need for global surgeons.