Global Health Learning Collaborative to explore social determinants of health

GH SDOHThe factors defining your health have a lot to do with where you are born, how and with whom you grow up and the resources available to you. Those factors, according to the World Health Organization, are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics.

These “social determinants of health” will be the focus of the 2015-2016 Global Health Learning Collaborative (GHLC), a series of guest speakers and interactive discussions. Sponsored by the DMU Department of Global Health and Master’s of Public Health Program, GHLC will be offered every other Thursday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., from September 10 through December 3 on the DMU campus.

“The collaborative is a really good way to be reflective about what you’ve learned and what you will experience as a physician,” says Whitney Vuong, a second-year DMU osteopathic medical student and one of three student leaders for this year’s GHLC. She and the other two student leaders, DMU classmate Dimitri Boreisha and Drake University pharmacy student Erica Truong, have participated in global health service and are eager to learn and do more.

“The global health program drew me to DMU. I wanted that to be a big part of my education,” says Boreisha, who was born in the Ukraine and has lived in several other countries. He praises past GHLC student leaders. “They did a phenomenal job. It’s tremendously inspirational to see students with that degree of freedom and knowledge.”

The student leaders agree that GHLC is an opportunity to delve deeper into influences on health, including social determinants such as access to health care and healthy food, health literacy, education and economic stability.

“Coming to medical school and choosing osteopathic medicine was a matter of how I could become the best physician I could be. I was really interested in that holistic approach,” Vuong says. “A person’s health and health care go beyond what happens in the doctor’s office.”

For more information about the GHLC, contact Yogesh Shah, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean of global health, at 515-271-1425 or

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