Just a couple of weeks ago, 9 students from Maastricht University in the Netherlands arrived at McMaster, while 14 of our students arrived at Maastricht – all ready to start their semester in a new country. During the winter term of the MSc in Global Health program, students are given the opportunity to specialize in one of the program’s three fields of interest, and may go on exchange to Maastricht/McMaster. All students continue to work collaboratively in transcontinental groups, but the exchange makes it possible for students to meet some of their peers face-to-face, before the summer term in Manipal, where all program students meet in person.
Pearl Vyas, a McMaster student who has elected to pursue her winter term on exchange with Maastricht, believes the Innovations stream will provide her with a better understanding of “how science and technology influence health care delivery, and the processes involved in implementing innovations that influence health globally.”
Vyas comments on her initial experience in the Netherlands: “My Maastricht peers have been extremely welcoming and helpful in guiding me through the problem-based learning style of the program and life in the Netherlands in general.” While she is in awe of the ‘true Roman city’, she admits, “I’m still adapting to riding my bike daily on cobblestone.” She hopes to learn a little Dutch and explore more of the border cities of Belgium and Germany.
During her medical school clerkship, Vyas was often asked about her views of the current health care system, how she felt about health policies, and what she thought was the role of Physicians, in terms of global health. As a Health Science Instructor at Trillium College who is educated in medicine, and a student pursuing a MSc in Global Health, she is now working to answer these questions for future patients.
As she trains to become part of the force that shapes health care outcomes throughout the world, Vyas looks back on past experiences that influenced her to pursue this degree. “Providing health care in inner city hospitals, where pathological processes could often be tied to poverty, crime and lack of resources, allowed me to view local health outcomes in which deficiencies were often a result of a universal problem,” she says.
Vyas recognizes that “with the increased emergence of infectious diseases, natural disasters, and war across the globe, there is a current shift in viewing healthcare on a more global scale.” And, with a Master of Science in Global Health, she will be equipped with the skills required to navigate the dynamic nature of the various health care challenges faced by a given community.