An international delegation of visitors from 12 countries came to Texas with one common goal: to learn more about how to prevent, treat and manage health problems affecting women around the globe.
They found what they were looking for at UNT Health Science Center, one of six stops that the group made as part of a coast-to-coast tour of clinics, government agencies and medical schools.
The UNTHSC stop was chosen for its Rural Scholars Program, an initiative of the school’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, and its focus on training students to treat health issues affecting females in Texas, according to the State Department, which is sponsoring the International Visitor Leadership Program’s multi-regional project “Global Women’s Health Issues.”
The World Learning Visitor Exchange Program, a non-profit organization that focuses on international development and education, organized the event to increase information sharing and examine public awareness campaigns about health issues.
The group, which included a nurse from the Marshall Islands, a physician from Saudi Arabia and a public health specialist from Malaysia, were eager to learn how the United States addresses medical issues. They found that physicians in rural Texas face many of the same challenges they do in their home countries: a shortage of physicians, lack of high tech equipment, isolation and economic challenges.
‘Family medicine fills a great gap’
But through the Rural Osteopathic Medical Education of Texas program, known as ROME, family medicine physicians are working to meet the needs of people in these communities, said John Gibson, MD, Assistant Dean of the Office of Rural Medicine Education. UNTHSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates more primary care physicians than any other program in the state.
“Family medicine fills a great gap in health care coverage,” he said.
Primary care physicians play an increasingly important role in health care, said Elaine Head, PhD, President and CEO of Global North Texas, which coordinated the visit.
“The family doctor seems to do all, from birth to the end of life,” she said. “Every community needs them.”
After learning about the ROME program and taking a tour, the delegation left for San Francisco with ideas that they hoped would benefit patients in their home countries.
“What I see here in Fort Worth is really inspiring,” said Dina Sajdeya, a physician who is part of the international delegation.