INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE REPORT

Name of Organization: The BOTUSA Project
Location (city, country): Gaborone, Botswana
Dates of your attendance:

October 2002 - March 2003

Purpose of site institution (3-4 words):

public health research

Is there a language requirement? If so, state language: No

Activities available:

Public community healthresearch

Opportunities appropriate for:

clinical students

  1. Please describe your activities while abroad (eg, seeing patients, clinical research, public health project, etc.):
    I supervised a tuberculosis screening project at a refugee camp in northern Botswana. We administered a questionnaire asking about demographics, risk factors, and symptoms, and collected sputum for AFB smears from symptomatic refugees. My job was to coordinate the efforts of various research nurses, lab techs, and translators, as well as data collection and management.

  2. Please describe the range of activities available, in addition to yours:
    BOTUSA is a joint project of the US Centers for Disease Control and the Botswana Ministry of Health. They offer a fellowship for upper-level med students to work in their TB research division. Students are assigned to a research project based on what is under way at the time they arrive. Most projects are in Botswana's capital or its second largest town.


  3. Would you recommend this institution to other Penn medical students? Why?
    Yes--this was a great opportunity to get experience doing international public health research. The program gives students a lot of autonomy. Also a good exposure to what it's like to work for a government agency. But to me the best thing was not the institution but the experience of living in Botswana.

  4. What did you not like?
    Much of my time was spent in a remote area with no access to a car--got lonely and isolated at times. As a foreigner assigned to supervise a team of local staff, I had to deal with a good bit of mistrust. Also, autonomy had a flip side--there were times when I could have used some guidance and didn't get it. (But this was all part of the experience and I learned from it.)

  5. Is there an application process for this institution? How does one arrange a visit? Are there important dates to know about?
    For application info go to http://www.amsa.org/global/ih/botusa.cfm However, the person they tell you to contact just left. Email me for updated contact info.



  6. What costs were associated with the trip, other than transportation. Please include institutional fees, housing costs, food, etc.:
    Food (less than $500 over 6 months) and personal travel.



  7. Did you receive funding for this trip? If so, from whom and for how much? Please provide important information, such as contacts, application procedure, and due dates:
    BOTUSA pays for airfare to Botswana and housing while you're there, but not food. I got a small grant from Frontline Medicine to help cover food.


  8. Would you agree to be contacted by other students interested in this site? If so, please give your name and contact information:
    Annie Davis
    Email: andavis@mail.med.upenn.edu

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