Stritch, exchange students learning from one another


Hannah-Lisa Akunyumu-Tetteh (from left), Samuel Kodzo Togbe, and Nana Esi Abaidoo are attending the Stritch School of Medicine.

For the past three years, Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine has partnered with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology School of Medical Sciences (KNUST) in Ghana to create a successful student exchange program.

Coordinated by the school’s Center for Community and Global Health (CCGH), the program offers students at both schools a chance to learn by immersing themselves in the other country’s medical community for several weeks.

This year the students from Ghana were Samuel Kodzo Togbe, Hannah-Lisa Akunyumu-Tetteh and Nana Esi Abaidoo. The students rotated as sub-interns on the colorectal and surgical-oncology services as well as the hematology and oncology services. They also spent time in the Advanced Procedure Education Center.

“It’s an amazing experience to see how physicians interact with patients in other areas of the world,”  Hannah-Lisa said. “What we see in Ghana is different than what physicians see here, and it has broadened our knowledge and helped us to be better prepared for what we do and will see in the future.” 

Samuel, who is planning on becoming a surgeon, is grateful for being able to observe and talk to Loyola surgeons.

“There are so many specialties that we don’t have in Ghana,” Samuel said. “It was amazing to learn about technology and to get a broad view of what is out there. Surgical management here in the U.S. does a lot to help patient outcomes, and I hope to bring some of what I learned back to my future practice.” 

Hannah-Lisa and Nana both are interested in primary care.

“Patients here have so much more access to information and have great questions and the chance to help make decisions about their health care,” Nana said. “I want to bring that back to my future patients so we can make the best decision about their needs together.

“We all have the same goal of wanting to help the sick and relieve those who are in pain. We can learn from each other how to accomplish that goal.”

In spring 2014, six fourth-year Stritch students will travel to KNUST to complete an elective in inpatient medicine.

“Everyone who has participated in the program returns enriched by new clinical experiences and exceptional teaching,” said Amy Blair, MD, medical director of the CCGH. “They also are challenged by the health disparities seen between our populations. The impact has increased their global perspective and has a far-reaching effect on the students’ future care of marginalized populations.” 

For Blair, one of the most powerful aspects of the program is seeing the direct impact on the students from both countries.

“It is wonderful what these four weeks do for our students,” Blair said. “To see how it develops their clinical skills and expands their view of medical care globally.

“What always amazes me is to hear about the impact we have on the students from Ghana. They see us as models in how we treat our patients and really, each other. This program truly is beneficial for everyone involved.”