Medical, nursing, pharmacy and public health students learned how to save the lives of newborns and their mothers in the developing world at the UCF College of Medicine’s third annual Global Health Conference. Almost 200 healthcare students from across Florida attended the January 31 event focused on maternal and child health worldwide.
“We chose maternal and child health because it has some of the highest disparities in the health field,” conference co-director and second-year UCF medical student Audrey Avila said. “Many of these can be solved with easy, cost-effective interventions that people just don’t know about.”
One of those disparities includes postpartum hemorrhaging after birth, the leading cause of maternal mortality across the globe, accounting for more than 30 percent of all maternal deaths. Nurses and educators from Orlando Health’s Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies used a computerized pregnant mannequin who gave birth to a healthy baby but then began hemorrhaging after delivery. “My goal was for students to respect the amount of work that goes into a delivery,” said Winnie Palmer maternal educator Princess Lock who led the simulation. “Even in the most rural setting, this is a natural process, and they can use these tools to help facilitate decreasing the risk for postpartum hemorrhage.”
Lock taught students how to measure quantitative blood loss in new mothers and how to be proactive about when a patient is losing too much blood. She also demonstrated the use of certain tools – like a Bakri Balloon – that can reduce bleeding. “I learned a lot of things that I think will prepare me for later rotations,” said first-year UCF medical student Laurie Goyack who said she had never witnessed childbirth before the conference. ”It was very hands-on. Everybody was craning their necks to see.”
With the help of other College of Medicine hospital partners and mannequins, students also learned to help babies suffering from newborn asphyxia. Physicians from Nemours Children’s Hospital taught students the “Helping Babies Breathe” method, which has been used in communities worldwide. Dr. Jen Setlik, an emergency room physician at Nemours, has taught the method to midwives, healers and even farmers in rural areas like Malawi, Africa. The evidence-based breathing method uses a variety of steps – including a breathing mask – to resuscitate newborns. During the session, students split into groups and used the mask on baby mannequins that are actually taken oversees to train communities as part of the “Helping Babies Breathe” effort. With the mannequins and the mask, students could actually see the baby’s chest rise and fall once they facilitated breathing.
Simulation continued in the College of Medicine’s Clinical Skills and Simulation Center where student actors played the role of new mothers struggling to feed infant twins. Based on her cultural beliefs, the mother was nursing her son first – until he was full – and then nursing her daughter. The baby girl was lethargic, cold to the touch and not thriving. Students with different types of training – such as medical and public health – teamed up to interview the mother and then advise – without judgment – on ways she could help her daughter thrive just like her son.
Second-year UCF medical student and conference co-organizer Tommy Tea said the interdisciplinary approach to this year’s Global Health Conference was intentional. “Medicine as a whole has become a lot more interprofessional,” he said. “No matter what the theme is, it’s about working together toward a common goal.”
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