Medical residents go global with Sanford World Clinic

Doctors learn from different cultures during rotations in Costa Rica

Medical residents go global with Sanford World Clinic

Two medical residents from Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota, are the first to take part in a series of global learning opportunities through Sanford World Clinic.

Shannon Chamberlain, M.D., and Ramneet Singh, M.D., recently returned from San Jose, Costa Rica, following a two-week educational experience with the Hospital Metropolitano system.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve honestly had,” Dr. Singh said. “It hit home with me.”

Born in Canada to parents from India, Dr. Singh knows firsthand some of the barriers patients from diverse backgrounds often face.

“Growing up, my parents had some difficulties with the Canadian health system or just the health system in general with our cultural beliefs and how health care is managed,” Dr. Singh said.

From college in Michigan to medical school in the Caribbean, the family medicine resident makes it a priority to see different parts of the globe.

“If we’re able to experience different cultures and broaden our minds regarding the barriers, that will in turn churn out better residents, physicians in the future,” Dr. Singh said.

‘We at Sanford Health want to stand apart’

Producing well-rounded residents is a priority for Sanford Health. Recruiting top medical talent is too, according to senior director of medical education Amy Bialas, Ed.D.

“When we recruit medical students into our residency and fellowship programs, we at Sanford Health want to stand apart. We want the medical students to be attracted to our training programs here. Offering an international experience definitely helps set us apart in that,” Bialas said.

Thrilled to be establishing this pilot program, Bialas adds rotations will expand the residents’ medical knowledge and reinforce physical exam and procedural skills. It’s also an opportunity to witness the social determinants of health in Costa Rica.

“Meaning access to care, meaning access to clean water, meaning access to education, all of those things are just different. All contribute to a person’s overall health. It’s a different patient than what they’re used to here,” Bialas said.

‘Can help tip the scales’

Looking at patients as a whole and including them in major health care decisions is part of what Dr. Chamberlain saw during her visit.

“Seeing different specialties, sitting in on patient encounters, we spent some time in the emergency department. Outside of the hospital, we experienced downtown San Jose and some of the culture there,” Dr. Chamberlain said.

The internal medicine resident is excited for her colleagues to participate moving forward. Transitioning to chief resident in Fargo soon, Dr. Chamberlain hopes these opportunities expand in the future.

“Global opportunities are something unique that programs have to offer and it can help tip the scales one way or the other when it comes to applicants,” Dr. Chamberlain said.

‘I think it’s life-changing’

Different iterations are possible thanks to the relationships already developed over years through Sanford World Clinic.

“Because of our World Clinic presence in some of these countries it just seems like a no-brainer in a way for those individuals that have a desire to expand their horizon and experience something completely different,” said Karoliina Slack, Sanford World Clinic executive director.

Three rotations, featuring primary care residents, to Costa Rica are taking place in 2023. The dream is to incorporate rotations to Ghana eventually.

“I believe the residents will be better prepared to understand diverse populations in their care. When we’ve had Sanford providers or other staff members go to Costa Rica or Ghana, they come back stating, ‘My life will never be the same.’ I believe the same will be true for the global residents,” Slack said.

Providing new perspectives leads to exceptional care for patients.

“Taking those experiences, using them in my practice, that will help me make a better relationship with my patients, gain their trust and have better care overall,” Dr. Singh said.

Learn more

Posted In Emergency Medicine, Fargo, Internal Medicine, People & Culture, Physicians and APPs, Postgraduate Programs, World Clinic