Comparative case studies in Warwick Medical School
David Davies & Leda Mirbahai
Warwick Medical School, Warwick University
David and Leda explained that in the context of the Health and Medical Sciences course at Warwick Medical School, internationalisation has two meanings. The first is the acknowledgement of the international problems in health that arise because of tourism and migration. Diseases that historically were confined to certain parts of the world are now just a plane ticket away, as we saw with the case of the Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and brought it back to Glasgow. The other aspect to internationalisation centres on the curriculum, with the aim of embedding intercultural elements and global cases into the curriculum itself.
Each week on the course, students cover a new case, which has both a local and a global dimension to it. For example, if the issue of ageing societies is being considered, ageing in the UK is compared with the same phenomenon in Japan or the U.S to see how the associated health problems differ. Students are encouraged to question why they differ; how in some cultures, because of often unconsciously held cultural values, the elderly are regarded as valued members of the family, whilst in others, the same are seen as taking resources from healthcare, and not contributing to society. Students are asked to try and see the impact of the different cultural values and connotations on associated issues such as social isolation and mental health and even, taking it further, on economic factors in relation to transport links designed for the elderly.
Through using these local/global case studies, the course director’s intention is to be able to teach the students to make links between different cases within a topic or issue in health and use these links to be able solve problems on their own. The learning that is generated from studying the case is further developed through the weekly debate that is held on a related topic, for example, a discussion on the moral tensions behind increased IVF for Indian elderly – students come to the topic not only looking at the molecular or clinical side of it but they are also questioning the social and economic impact, as well as the ethical considerations that need to be factored in, and overall, they’re applying their broader knowledge to real-life scenarios.
David and Lena feel that through this local/global case-based learning, they are also preparing students for work in other national contexts, as well as preparing them to treat international people within the UK’s NHS. Ultimately, they hope that students take everything that they’ve learnt and can become agents for change once they leave the programme.