Apply now for Medical Spanish for Health Science Students

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Health science students are invited to apply now for Medical Spanish (Medical Sciences 622-735). The class helps students improve their Spanish-language skills in a medical interviewing context and effectively interact with Spanish-speaking patients from the community. Students earn one credit in the class taught by Araceli Alonso, R.N., Ph.D., an associate faculty member in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Apply here

Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, December 4, 2017. Deadline for applications is by midnight Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Students will be notified of acceptance by Friday, January 19, 2018. Students should not register for the course prior to notification of acceptance. Students currently enrolled in health professions programs are given priority for acceptance into the course.

Two sections of the course will be taught spring semester 2018 on the same evening (note time differences below). The Intermediate Section is designed for students who have solid Spanish speaking ability (are able to communicate in a number of interactive social and task-oriented encounters) and good oral comprehension skills. The Advanced Section is designed for students who are near or completely fluent in speaking and comprehension and can effectively initiate and sustain a wide variety of conversations with finesse. Students should indicate on the application which section they prefer for placement consideration.

Course Dates

  • 10 weekly sessions: Thursdays, February 1 to April 19 (no class March 22 or 29)
  • The Intermediate Section will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m.; the Advanced Section will meet from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m.
  • Classes meet in 1309 HSLC.

Class Features

  • Pertinent medical vocabulary for clinical histories and physical exams
  • Grammar component to facilitate effective and professional communication
  • Small group interaction with native Spanish speakers serving as “teaching patients”
  • Information about cultural practices unique to the Hispanic community and working with interpreters
  • An opportunity to gain insight into a different culture’s concerns and a better understanding of the diversity in the Madison area
  • Practice scenarios that relate to medicine, pharmacy, nursing, PA, PT, and veterinary medicine students

Minimum of Intermediate level Spanish speaking skills are required for the course. Course enrollment is limited. A completed online application is required for admission. Students are required to attend eight of 10 sessions to receive credit.

No tuition or fees are charged for full-time students. Purchase of course book ($11.95), available at UW Bookstore in HSLC, is required for the Intermediate Section only.

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Professor Wins Award for Research on Genocide

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UW-Madison political science professor Scott Straus has won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for his book “Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa.”

The University of Louisville presents the $100,000 award annually for outstanding works in ideas improving world order, psychology, education, music composition and, in conjunction with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, religion. The Ideas Improving World Order award is a major honor in the field of political science, with roughly 50 nominations sent from around the world each year, says award director Charles Ziegler.

In Making and Unmaking Nations, Straus – who specializes in the study of genocide, political violence, human rights and African politics – explains how ideas and political messages can become tipping points for genocide. His research examines patterns and circumstances that have resulted in genocide and contrasts those with similar situations where genocide seemed likely to happen but did not.

“The book is about trying to understand how and why genocide happens,” Straus says. “The premise is to examine not just those cases where it did but also near misses. In doing so, I sought to isolate the dynamics and factors that distinguish genocide cases from non-genocide cases, and from there to develop a general theory of genocide.”

“Straus’s work alerts us to the circumstances under which genocide emerges and he identifies key points when action by national leaders, and efforts by the international community, can halt the slide into mass violence,” Ziegler says.

Straus became interested in genocide while working as a journalist in the mid-1990s covering the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda and a related ward in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his 13 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he has taught several courses on genocide and related topics and is grateful for the students who have shown interest in the subject. Straus worked on Making and Unmaking Nations for nearly a decade, with support including Vilas Associates and H.I Romnes Faculty Fellowship awards.

“I am very pleased that the award committee chose a book about genocide for its selection on improving world order,” Straus says. “There are many pressing global challenges. To me, understanding and preventing genocide remains a global priority, but I worry that such a view is not widely shared. The award, I hope, will bring renewed attention to the topic.”

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New Certificate Brings Humanities Into Health Care Studies

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Last spring in a Biology and Society course, Makenzie Wydra had an aha moment. Health, she realized, isn’t just the way diseases form and how the body responds to medicines and treatments. It’s so much more, from the way notions of health have developed over time to how individuals and groups experience health care.

Makenzie Wydra. Photo by Sarah Morton, College of Letters & Science

The class, taught by assistant professor of history Nicole Nelson, explores the history of biotechnologies, ethics and how scientific developments both shape and are shaped by society. It was exciting to Wydra, who had already taken several science courses as a biology major planning a career in nursing.

“All the rest of my classes were formulas and memorization,” says Wydra, now a junior. “This introduced how things happened. It was a brief overview but it made me want to learn more.”

She is now getting that chance, as one of the first students admitted to a new certificate program that examines historical, cultural and philosophical ways people make decisions about health care.

The Health and the Humanities Certificate is a five-course, 15-credit program designed to give students a fuller and more nuanced understanding of health that complements study in the biosciences.

It stems from a problem Dija Selmi and Susan Nelson noticed a few years back while working at the Center for Pre-Health Advising, which sees about 3,000 students a year and helps about 500 apply to medical school annually. The advisors saw that students were excelling academically and gaining strong experience in labs, yet they weren’t well-versed in the bigger picture of health care.

And they weren’t ideally prepared for the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, which in 2015 was revamped to include sections on social and behavioral determinants of health and critical and analytical reasoning skills.

The advisors knew the university had a variety of classes on health — in departments ranging from Gender and Women’s Studies to anthropology, and history to English — and worked to bring faculty from those disciplines together to create the certificate program.

Certificate director Nicole Nelson says courses that count toward the certificate make students aware of the cultural, religious and other backgrounds that people bring with them when they interact with the health care system — and that gaining an understanding of these perspectives gives them a competitive edge.

“There’s a trend toward medical schools nationally seeking out students who are more well-rounded,” Nelson says, adding that the health care industry has increasingly focused on interpersonal aspects of the field as well.

Students begin by enrolling in one of five core classes — Biology and Society, 1950–Today; Bodies, Diseases and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine; Introduction to Social Medicine; Literature and Medicine; or Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health — before they apply to the certificate.

If accepted, they then take two intermediate or upper-level courses with a focus on health and illness in social context, as well as a cultural competency class that may not necessarily focus on health and illness but that considers the experiences of at-risk or underserved populations in health care. They finish with a capstone, either through a special Health and the Humanities class or a health-focused service-learning course.

Certificate advisor Julia Dauer says some students have expressed concern about how much reading and writing the program will entail, since most of their sciences courses utilize problem sets, lab experiments and multiple-choice tests.

“The modes of assessment are so different,” she says.

But those different approaches ultimately will help students be able to communicate better and use evidence in discussions and debates about health. And the certificate helps organize coursework so students can gain expertise in an area.

Judy Houck, co-director of the certificate who teaches a class about the cultural history of disease, says students are often surprised when a course piques their interest in a new way. Some like learning about how elements of health care have changed over time, while others gravitate to “thorny” issues such as how to weigh individual rights against the public’s health.

Houck believes the certificate will prepare students to be better future doctors, nurses and pharmacists who know that “the patient sitting in front of you is not a mere physiological problem to be solved.”

But she also hopes aspiring policymakers, playwrights and other types of professionals see value in studying health in conjunction with the humanities.

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Five UW-Madison Professors, including GHI Advisory Committee member Jeanette Roberts, named AAAS Fellows

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Jeanette Roberts, Ph.D. Medicinal Chemistry, University of Minnesota; Masters in Public Health, University of Utah

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has elected five professors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as AAAS Fellows.

They join 391 other fellows who have been recognized by their peers for significant contributions to their fields and the scientific endeavor as a whole.

UW-Madison’s honored professors are:

-Amy J. Barger, professor of astronomy, for important contributions to our understanding of the evolution of black holes and dust-obscured galaxies from the early universe to the present day.

-John F. Berry, professor of chemistry, for novel synthetic, spectroscopic, and computational approaches to structure and bonding in catalytically-relevant coordination compounds that are unstable, highly reactive, or show unusual properties.

-Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, professor of electrical and computer engineering, for distinguished contributions to the field of flexible electronics, particularly for inventing fast flexible electronics, flexible optoelectronics and nanomembrane-based photonics.

-Jeanette C. Roberts, professor of pharmacy, for distinguished contributions to the field of chemoprevention and chemoprotection, for sustained service to AAAS, and for excellence in administrative contributions as dean until 2013 of the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy.

-Lydia Zepeda, professor of consumer science, for research, teaching, and outreach in agricultural economics, including innovative studies of consumer views of agricultural products and their food preferences.

AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society, has elected distinguished members as fellows since 1874. This year’s fellows will be honored at the organization’s annual meeting on February 17th, 2018, in Austin, Texas.

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2018 Global Health Symposium

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The Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to welcome Professor Susan Paskewitz as the keynote speaker for the 14th annual Global Health Symposium: Advancing Health in Uncertain Times. The symposium begins at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Paskewitz is professor and chair of the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She also is co-director of the Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a member of the GHI Advisory Committee. Her research focuses on medically important arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, and the human pathogens they transmit. She also teaches classes in global health and medical entomology.

The annual symposium provides a forum for the UW-Madison global health community to showcase recent work and connect with each other. The evening includes oral and poster presentations and a closing panel on a global health hot topic.

Watch this page for more details and registration information.

Call for abstracts

Deadline: February 12, 2018

The call is open to members and partners of the UW-Madison community who are addressing global health and disease. From basic research to education to applied projects in the field, the symposium hopes to showcase the full spectrum of UW-Madison global health activity. We encourage and welcome presentations from all disciplines—from arts, agriculture, and business, to education, engineering, and humanities, to all of the health sciences and more. 

Following the keynote address, selected oral presenters will deliver their work in 15-minute (including time for questions), concurrent sessions. Posters will be available for viewing all evening, and a poster session follows the presentations. Hors d’oeuvres will be served during the networking reception that closes the evening.

Abstract Submission Form


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Apply now for 2018 global health grants

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) is pleased to announce the application period is open for its 2018 grants and awards. This competitive grant program is designed to support global health efforts of faculty, staff and graduate students across campus, fostering the Wisconsin Idea locally and globally.

This year, the Institute will offer a new grant, the Henry Anderson III Graduate Student Award in Environmental, Occupational and Public Health, in addition to Graduate Student Research Awards, Visiting Scholar Awards and Faculty and Staff Travel Awards. There will be no Seed Grant awards in 2018.

An expert on environmental and occupational disease, public health, epidemiology, disease and exposure surveillance, Henry Anderson III, M.D., is an adjunct professor in the Department of Population Health and former chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. With the graduate student award, he hopes to support students pursuing research in the area of environment, occupation and global health.

The deadline for GHI grant applications is 11:59 p.m. January 29, 2018.

  • Henry Anderson III Graduate Student Award in Environmental, Occupational and Public Health supports graduate students interested in pursuing research in those topic areas. Application information is available here.
  • Graduate Student Research Awards supports doctoral students pursuing work in any relevant discipline whose graduate work will enhance global health activities on the UW-Madison campus and beyond. Grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded. Application information is available here.
  • Visiting Scholar Awards brings visitors to UW-Madison who substantially enhance global health activities on campus in collaboration with a sponsoring UW-Madison faculty member or faculty team. Grants of up to $8,000 each will be awarded. Application information is available here.
  • Faculty and Staff Travel Awards are available for UW-Madison faculty and staff who are GHI affiliates. They can be used for international travel related to educational and research activities. Grants of up to $2,500 each will be awarded. Application information is available here.

To learn more about previous grant recipients, visit the global health research pages. For more information about the grants and grant process, contact the Global Health Institute, 265-9299.

By Ann Grauvogl/ November 9, 2017

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