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Case competition a learning experience for VU students

Apr. 10, 2014, 9:24 AM

A team of Vanderbilt University students in medicine, business, public health and economic development competed March 29 in an international Global Health Case Competition at Emory University in Atlanta.

While the team did not advance to the finals, team member and first-year School of Medicine student Jiun-Ruey (Ruey) Hu said the experiences of winning the Vanderbilt competition and going on to the international event “reaffirm my excitement about working in medicine and global health.”

“It was the perfect chance to apply the case-based learning approach of (VUSM’s) Curriculum 2.0 to an interdisciplinary challenge,” he said.

This is the fourth year that the Student Advisory Council of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH-SAC) has hosted a Global Health Case Competition on the Vanderbilt campus, and the third year that it has competed in the international competition.

The goal, according to the SAC website, is to “engage students in real-world global health challenges … (and) foster critical analysis and thoughtful action.”

Nearly 20 multidisciplinary teams, represented by more than 100 participants, competed in the three-day Vanderbilt competition in February. Team members included undergraduate, graduate and professional students from nine Vanderbilt schools and colleges and Meharry Medical College.

Their challenge was to design a program to improve road traffic safety in urban Vietnam.

Ben Tran, Ph.D., assistant professor of Asian Studies and English, described the lack of adherence to safety regulations and the exceptionally dangerous road conditions in the dense urban area of Ho Chi Minh City.

Roger Sweis, MBA, founder and CEO of the non-profit organization the Wheelhouse Project, urged the teams to consider non-traditional solutions for global health financing that generate self-sustaining funding streams.

The teams then had 72 hours to plan, organize and develop a proposal to address the issue.

They presented their ideas to a panel of judges consisting of nine faculty and community members: Douglas Heimburger, M.D., M.S., Martha Jones, Ph.D., MPA, Amina Merchant, M.D., Troy Moon, M.D., MPH, James Schorr, MBA, Sweis, Chay Sengkhounmany, J.D., Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., and Bahr Weiss, Ph.D.

Solutions were judged on strategy, efficient use of data, specificity and feasibility toward the given case, delivery, and innovation. The winning team, which competed in Atlanta, also won a $1,200 prize.

Team members in addition to Hu were:

• Irène Mathieu, M.D. candidate, 2015

• Elizabeth Murphy, M.P.H. candidate (Global Health), 2014

• Hemant Nelaparthi, MBA candidate, 2014

• Ellen Page, MBA candidate, 2015

• Saad Tamman, M.A. candidate (Economic Development), 2014

This year’s international event, which attracted teams from 24 universities around the world, “asked us to re-envision the World Health Organization,” Murphy said. “It was a fantastic learning experience.”

It “is a great adjunct to our education for those of us interested in global health,” Mathieu added.

— by Denise Anthony

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