April 9, 2010

Norman named to Fulbright Specialist program

Featured Image

Andy Norman, M.D., here working with patients at a clinic in Liberia, Africa, is preparing to return to Ghana, Africa, to help train medical students in obstetrics and gynecology. (photo by Cat Norman)

Norman named to Fulbright Specialist program

Andy Norman, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a core faculty member of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH), has been named a Fulbright Specialist.

The program sends the best and brightest teachers in specialized disciplines to train others around the world where the need is great.

Norman is preparing to return to Ghana, Africa, where he has been on many mission trips over the years, to conduct surgical repairs of a devastating and tragic side effect of childbirth. With funding from the Fulbright program, Norman will spend six weeks teaching Ob/Gyn clinical rotations for medical students at Ghana's School of Medicine and Allied Health at the University for Development Studies.

“The area of North Ghana only has seven Ob/Gyns to serve a population of millions,” Norman said. “While this university had been doing preclinical medical school training for more than 10 years, students have been going to bigger cities and medical schools in the South for specialty training and not coming back to the underserved North. If we can provide this critical training, the community will begin to receive services they previously had no access to.”

Norman is well known for his trips to offer the repair of vesicovaginal fistula (VVF). Arrested delivery and difficult childbirth is a serious problem in Ghana. Infant and mother mortality rates are very high. Often, women who do survive not only lose their babies, but can develop VVF afterward, and are unable to control the flow of their urine.

As a result, victims of VVF are often rejected by their own families early in adulthood and spend the rest of their lives in isolation.

“The VIGH is delighted that Dr. Andy Norman was named to the elite Fulbright Specialist Program,” said Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., director of the VIGH. “His work to help his colleagues in Ghana receive specialist training will enable women to receive this life-transforming surgical repair.

"That Dr. Norman's emphasis will be in providing invaluable obstetric and gynecologic training to medical and nursing staff and students will help to build a sustainable program to serve these women.”

As part of the program, Norman will be included among a list of top-level specialists for a period of up to five years. Fulbright pays for up to two medical schools to receive Norman's services. While any international medical institution in need could apply to receive his services for two to six weeks, Ghana's University of Development Studies applied quickly and won the first grant. Norman leaves for Ghana in June.

The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. State Department, administers the Fulbright Programs for faculty and professionals.