Broadening Their Worldview

30 TCOP Students Visit UN as Part of Global Health Class

November 21, 2017
Students from TCOP's Global Health class visited the United Nations on Nov. 14.

Students in TCOP’s Global Health class received a closer look at the issues facing global health with a guided tour of the United Nations building on November 14.

“The Global Health class highlights what pharmacists can do to help solve some of the many challenges facing the world, especially those which are medicines-related,” explained Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah, the course director. “This trip introduces them to the global environment they will be working in if they chose to pursue global health careers and also brings to life many of the concepts we discussed in class like the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global frameworks for development.”    

Throughout the course, second year (P2) students are introduced to the effects of globalization on health and the determinants and distributions of health problems from a global perspective. Students also learn about the major global health systems and programs whose work is directed at improving health, reducing health disparities, and protecting against global health threats—many of which are UN-related programs. Several students who completed the course have continued to internships at the World Health Organization and other globally-oriented organizations.

“This course is unique in the PharmD curriculum because it highlights the difference that pharmacists can make in solving global health challenges especially those that are medicine related,” stated Dr. Addo-Atuah.

While they waited to enter the UN building, students spoke about their reasons for taking the elective. The class draws pharmacy students who are interested in working in global health and those that simply want to be well-rounded pharmacists.

“What I like about the class is that it gives me a different perspective about what we learn in pharmacy school,” said P2 Virleny Garcia. “The class encourages us to think globally and we’re broadening our spectrum of knowledge.”

Garcia said that what the class taught her will help her even if she follows a more traditional pharmacy career. “Even if you work in a hospital you’re introduced to so many different cultures, you need to be globally competent.”

P2 student Lori-Ann  Foster said she wasn’t planning on pursuing a typical pharmacy career. “I want to see if the UN is a good fit for me.”

P2 student Claudette Donatien, a first-generation Haitian immigrant, said she planned on doing medical missions later on in her career, especially to Haiti. “I plan on going back to do something,” said Donatien. “As a pharmacist in Haiti, I can help prescribe mediations and fight malaria.”

Once the tour began, students were ushered inside the UN’s cavernous halls. A tour guide explained the inner workings of the UN from how many members there are on the UN Security Council and the General Assembly to how the UN finances its peacekeeping missions. The group strolled past works of art dedicated to the UN by member countries, including a copy of the Sphere Within a Sphere by Italian artist Arnoldo Pomodoro; a model of a Thai royalty canoe and a Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting unity in America. The tour stopped by a Holocaust exhibit, where students learned how the mass genocide was a catalyst for the development of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the tour guide explained the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of the students mouthed along, already familiar with the goals from their Global Health class.

“It’s really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes,” said P2 student Charlene Bland as she exited the UN’s Trusteeship Council Chamber. “We talk so much about the UN’s work in class that being here and seeing everything in real life is surreal.”

The tour’s most poignant moment occurred when the group stopped by a display that counted the amount of money spent worldwide each day on weapons. Every morning the display was reset to zero. By the time the group stood in front of it, a little after noon, the count was already more than two trillion dollars. The total two-year UN Budget is 5.4 billion, explained the tour guide, less than the budget for New York’s police force.

P2 student Michelle Rabi said she loved the tour.

“It really piqued my interest,” she said. “I’m going to look for an internship here.”