Students contribute to global health project

The innovative and collaborative environment at the College has spelled success for Baylor Global Initiatives’ Smart Pod project, including important contributions from two medical students.

The Smart Pod is a treatment center built on a shipping container platform that can be rapidly deployed worldwide for response to public health emergencies or natural disasters. Third-year student Sergio Navarro and second-year student Esther Kim recently attended the 2018 Consortium of Universities for Global Health annual conference New York City, where they gave a presentation on the work they have done on the Smart Pod in collaboration with Baylor Global Health, led by Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, and on its recent deployment to Liberia.

Their abstract was selected as one of 50 presentations out of 1,100 submitted for consideration. In addition, their study was featured in Lancet Global Health.

They discuss their work on the Smart Pod in this Q&A.

How did you get involved in the Smart Pod project, and what was your role?

As engineers with experience in development and innovation, we were attracted by the opportunity to collaborate in the global health arena to design components of the Smart Pod to improve patient care in an integrated way. We initially worked on development of a wireless patient monitoring system in the Pod as first-year medical students and have continued to work with the team since then, testing and validating the patient and healthcare provider electronic medical record system. We have continued to be involved on aspects of the Smart Pod since then.

How has being involved in the project contributed to your medical education, and how can you put what you learned to use in the future?

The Texas Medical Center and surrounding medical community provide access to many diverse resources at our fingertips, in stark contrast to the resource constraints that healthcare providers face on a daily basis in other parts of the world. This project emphasized the importance of efficiency and resource management to us. In particular, in crisis and disaster events, access to healthcare can become a scarce resource, something we can take for granted in our daily lives and a challenge our project sought to address. This lesson can be applied in any field of medicine we seek to pursue in the future.

What kind of experience did you gain at the conference that will contribute to your education and training?

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health is the one of the premier global health conferences in the world with more than 1,800 attendees. During the conference, we met many diverse people with whom we share the passion for global health and innovation. We were continually motivated and encouraged through the lectures and conversations with global health leaders, also connecting with students, residents and doctors.

After medical school, Navarro plans to pursue a residency in orthopedic surgery with a focus on innovation and development in a global setting, and Kim hopes to pursue a specialty in which she can incorporate both engineering and global health.