Rx One Health: A Prescription for Global Health Career Training

four women at the entrane to Mikumi National park
Bridgette (second from left) and classmates at the entrance to Mikumi National Park in Morogoro, Tanzania. The class toured the park on their way to Sokoine University of Agriculture, where they were able to see hippos, giraffes, elephants, and a beautiful array of birds while preparing for the next few days of giraffe skin disease surveillance at Ruaha National Park, the largest national park in Tanzania.

What skills and knowledge are needed to pursue a career in global health? Think problem solving, the ability to collaborate across disciplines, and a foundation in field and laboratory activities. Competencies in cultural awareness, community engagement and diplomacy are also critical.

Rx One Health, an intensive four-week summer program in East Africa, helps recent graduates and students in medicine and veterinary medicine prepare for global health careers, as well as other early career professionals in health, agriculture and conservation.

Led by the UC Davis One Health Institute and made possible by a great team of international collaborators, Rx One Health immerses participants in settings that illustrate that the health of people, animals and the environment are inextricably linked. Through hands-on, practical learning experiences, case studies, lectures, group discussions and field exercises, they develop skills in addressing complex health challenges using a One Health approach.

2018 participant Bridgette Smith shares her Rx One Health experience:

The month of July 2018 was one for the books, encompassing so many memories that I will never forget. I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Tanzania to be a part of the Rx One Health Summer Institute hosted by the UC Davis One Health Institute and Sokoine University of Agriculture.

From the beautiful urban city of Dar Es Saleem to the clear blue waters of Mafia Island, and later to the mind-blowing Ruaha National Park, I enjoyed every part. I absolutely enjoyed learning about the diverse culture of those who live in Tanzania, along with learning something new from my peers and the amazing faculty on the course.

Woman wearing red life jacket with water in background
Bridgette leaving Mafia Island to tour the small neighboring islands, Chole islands, where she and the class were able to interact with personnel at the island local dispensary (small hospital clinic), witness seaweed farming, and witness sea turtle hatching for the first time. 

A major highlight of the course was the opportunity to broaden my horizons and truly experience One Health in a global setting. Having the opportunity to talk to members of the indigenous Maasai tribes, trying local foods, learning Swahili, and debunking many “third-world” country rumors — all while making lifelong friends — was astonishing.

In addition, it was a great experience to work with people from different disciplines and cultures to propose solutions to some of the One Health challenges that we observed during our stay in parts of the country. Though we learned a lot from our hosts in Tanzania, it was very evident that we also learned a lot from one another as we all came from different backgrounds, culturally and academically.

I see that this opportunity to work closely with One Health experts and professionals from various disciplines and cultures and will play a large role in my future career. As an early public health professional, I am extremely interested in infectious disease and global health. My time spent in Tanzania provided me with knowledge and practical skills that I will forever need in my career toolbox as I aspire to do more One Health work globally.

If there is one thing I learned during the course, it’s that you really can’t do it alone. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and each individual had an important role to play; working together only results in more amazing and innovative One Health solutions.

As global One Health challenges continue to rise, I aspire to work with communities to pose transdisciplinary solutions using some of the practical skills I was able to acquire while participating in the Rx One Health summer course.  

BriStudent in front of sunset.dgette P. Smith, MPH is a project policy analyst at the UC Davis One Health Institute. She focuses primarily on global capacity strengthening for prevention of pathogen spillover for the USAID-funded PREDICT project. Bridgette's interest lie within global health and reducing emerging infectious disease pandemic risk. She is particularly interested in growing the One Health workforce, which trains health workers in high risk regions with the knowledge and skillsets necessary to reduce potential pandemics. Bridgette earned her B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology at UC Merced, and her MPH at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

Rx One Health is currently accepting applications for the summer 2019 program. Learn more about the program and how to apply.

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