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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796


SharkBytes Archives


Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954

Medical Students Without Borders

Nova Southeastern University sends students on medical rotations in 28 countries throughout the world

FT. LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. — In Vietnam, 4th-year medical student Leigh Anne Bressler learned the quality and quantity of care patients receive depends on how much money they can afford for health care. The impoverished nation’s health care system runs largely on a cash-pay system.

In Argentina, 4th-year medical student Heidi Eleanor Hagerott gave basic medical exams to residents of rural villages where electricity and running water are considered luxuries.

Their experiences are reflective of other medical students from Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine who volunteered for an international medical outreach or rotation program in 28 countries in five continents. These rotations provide the students with academic credit as well as allowing them to discover other cultures, learn about international health care systems and the practice of medicine in other countries, many of which may be lacking in medical care and access to care is very limited. Some of their patients have never seen a doctor before.

“In my two months in Argentina, I saw the true humanistic viewpoint of medicine,” Hagerott said. “I left La Rioja in tears and will always keep Argentina close to my heart.”

Since 2008, the students have become medical ambassadors of Nova Southeastern University, participating in the delivery of primary care throughout the world. They have also introduced the practice of osteopathic medicine to many countries, where this branch of American medicine is unknown.

In the education of an osteopathic physician, specific emphasis is placed on wellness and prevention, primary care, and osteopathic principles and practice. Osteopathic physicians are educated in a holistic approach to patient care that includes environmental factors as well as osteopathic manipulation techniques. Osteopathic physicians, like M.D.’s, practice a full range of medical care. While many D.O.s practice as primary care doctors, many also practice within all medical specialties.

Osteopathic medicine, which began in the U.S., is a rapidly growing medical profession throughout the country.

“The international rotations allow our medical students and faculty to learn and share different health care delivery systems and to introduce the osteopathic profession around the world,” said James T. Howell, M.D., M.P.H., assistant dean for professional relations at NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and director of the International Medical Rotations Program. “We are very optimistic that osteopathic medicine will eventually be a major health contributor around the world.”

Hagerott and Bressler, like other NSU medical students, are given a wide range of opportunities during their international rotations. It could be a routine medical examination, participating in the treatment of infectious and chronic diseases, and the delivery of public health and preventive medical services.

“The availability and affordability of vaccinations in Vietnam has been subpar, leading to outbreaks of several preventable diseases,” Bressler said. “I saw a middle-aged Vietnamese man with a nasty case of the mumps. This was my first and hopefully last time to see such a preventable disease.”

Bressler said the man’s case reinforces the importance of vaccinations and it should make Americans feel lucky to live in a country that has far-reaching public health initiatives to protect its population.

“As a whole, my experience in Vietnam has opened my eyes to some of the health care needs of other cultures that I have yet to have as patients,” said Bressler, who also treated expatriates. “It has prepared me to be open-minded and sensitive to their needs when I will inevitably encounter many of them as a practicing physician in the melting pot of America.”

Some of the countries NSU medical students have completed their rotations include Haiti, Peru, India, Colombia, Ghana, Bulgaria, United Arab Emirates, China, The Philippines, Brazil, France, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, South Africa, Ireland, Guatemala, Kenya, Taiwan, Israel, Jordan, Costa Rica, Nepal, Germany, and Pakistan.

More than 150 medical students have participated annually in international medical trips lasting from 10 days to three months, said Anthony J. Silvagni, D.O., Pharm. D., dean of the NSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. He said the program has a positive impact on the professional growth of NSU medical students since these opportunities start with an international medical outreach elective at the end of the students’ first semester during year one, progressing to international clinical rotations during their fourth year.

“NSU students who are engaged in these international rotations return to the U.S. with a global medical mindset,” said Anthony J. DeNapoli, Ed.D., NSU executive director of international affairs. “Their experiences will undoubtedly change the way they think, view, understand, and care for a changing patient population in America.”


About NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine:  For students pursuing their education at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM), the matriculation experience has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. By combining the most contemporary teaching modalities with the newest technology, our students are assured of obtaining the most comprehensive education possible. Thanks to the synergistic energy of our students, faculty members, and staff members of all of our programs, the pursuit of excellence has become a daily reality at NSU-COM. http://medicine.nova.edu/

About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 300 beautiful acres in Davie, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels.  NSU is the eighth largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally with more than 28,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification.  www.nova.edu

Media Contact:
Ken Ma, MBA, NSU Office of Public Affairs
954-262-5408 (office), 954-621-7961 (cell), ken.ma@nova.edu