Category Archive for 'regional advocacy institutes'

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Why HHRE?

(Adapted from a talk given at the PHR Mid-Atlantic and Southern Regional Advocacy Institute on November 13, 2010.)

In medical school, we are often taught to think of things in terms of their value-added: for example, what is the added value of attending this lecture instead of watching it on 2x speed at home? More seriously, this algorithmic approach influences almost everything we do: studying, balancing academics and extracurriculars, clinical decisions, and, most significantly, patient care. We make choices and tradeoffs every hour of every day. In professional lives that are so busy and can so often get entangled in these algorithms, it is important to take moments, or a day like this, to confer with like-minded colleagues and consider non-algorithmic approaches to medicine.

At the same time, in order to effect change within our field, we must speak its language. So I ask you, what is the added value of incorporating health and human rights education into health professional education? I ask because this is the argument that opponents of HHRE have used in the past, and will continue to use. Health students are already overstretched: there isn’t nearly enough time in our academic schedules to include yet more coursework. The right to health, while codified in the UDHR and other international statutes, can seem ephemeral next to the tangible facts of physiology or genetics. How can we teach a concept so intangible, and, even more importantly, what difference will it make?

I realize that in speaking to this group, I’m preaching to the human rights choir. Nonetheless, it seems important to take a step back, examine our goals for health and human rights education, and understand the arguments and resistance we may face. In a March 2010 article in The Lancet, Gunilla Backman and Joseph Fitchett made a strong case for HHRE, stating that “Educating health-care workers in human rights and the practical applications of the right to health is not only imperative for social justice, it is a morally powerful approach capable of transcending borders and directing health systems for the improvement of health.” They cited several UK studies, including the 2008 Human Rights in Healthcare Evaluation, which showed measurable improvements in patient care when health providers were educated in human rights. The findings, among others, included increased caregiver willingness to challenge established (but not necessarily adequate or well-received) health norms. The field of HHRE is an ever-growing one, and there is a fresh and incisive body of literature on why such curricular reform is truly necessary to meet ancient and emerging challenges in health care.

As part of PHR’s ongoing commitment to HHRE, we are working on identifying “core competencies,” essential concepts without which no health professional student should graduate. In addition, we must link human rights education to other disciplines, and build the evidence base that supports its importance. Finally, and perhaps of most interest, the field is becoming the area of scholars as well as advocates and activists. Bridging advocacy, research, and teaching, HHRE reform would herald a sea change in the way we think about health, from the first day we step in the classroom.

So this is really a call to action, because we cannot build this movement without national and international collaboration, without local chapters and regional connectivity. As health students, you are uniquely situated to work from within the system, within the profession. Many of you have already been involved in curricular change, whether by implementing electives on health and human rights or lobbying deans for larger-scale reform. I leave you with the challenge of maintaining momentum and pushing even further, because the value added of human rights education might just be so significant that it is unmeasurable.

Hello Northeast chapters! As I hope you all have heard by now, December 4 is our Northeast Regional Advocacy Institute at Tufts University in Boston. This is a fabulous event every year, very interesting and re-invigorating for the chapters that attend. You’ll hear about some issues PHR is currently advocating on, get new ideas for human rights education and advocacy, both on campus and in the wider political sphere, and meet some other equally motivated students. It’s also a great opportunity to network with each other, especially chapters that are near you, to coordinate joint actions and events.

At this year’s Insitute, we’ll hear from such exciting speakers as PHR CEO Frank Donaghue (who is always a treat), a representative of the Asylum Network, an expert on health and human rights in Burma, and a resident from Dartmouth, who will tell us about keeping yourself active in human rights advocacy through residency, something I’m sure we’re all interested in.

So, everyone should come, I promise it will be worth taking the time out of your busy schedule. You can register here. (And on that note, everyone in your chapter should also register themselves to receive updates and opportunities from the PHR National Student Program – you can do that here.)

Hope to see you there!

Speaking from the perspective of a health care professional (in training), defending and promoting human rights can be exhausting.

It does not have to—and should not—be that way.

A large part of the struggle is appreciating what has happened in the past and understanding what lies ahead: How does one define human rights? What advances have been made in the past? How are human rights impacted in my community vs. around the world? What efforts can we lead in our communities to support human rights? Why should human rights matter to health professionals? How do we approach human rights violations that are intricately intertwined with political arguments?

The answers to these questions—and many more like them—are what we strive to provide in our regional and national conferences.

Participating in regional and national conferences is essential to understanding the workings of any organization, and there are many opportunities to attend PHR Regional Advocacy Institutes (happening now) and National Student Conferences (held around February of each year). When we come together for these workshops, we see that we are not alone in protecting human rights. We all face problems as local organizations, we all have different goals, and we all want to learn more.

Beyond understanding the basic questions surrounding work in human rights, attending these nationally sponsored events promotes the exchange of ideas and promotes interactions between chapters. National conferences facilitate learning new facts and techniques for promoting human rights and expose you (and your chapter) to regionally and nationally acclaimed speakers. These events introduce you to a network of other like-minded students to whom you can reach out, and they also provide endless opportunities to make new friends.

More than anything, attending nationally sponsored events reenergizes you to head back home and fight the good fight. While defending human rights is an ongoing struggle, when we come together, we are able to take a step back—away from our smaller realms of influence—and understand that there’s a much larger effort being formed in our national community.

We hope to see you in soon at a Regional Advocacy Institute or at the 2011 National Student Conference. In the meantime, please check out the newly launched PHR Toolkits website, PHRtoolkits.org. The Toolkits are fantastic resources from the people at the PHR National Student Program to help chapters across the nation easily move forward in promoting human rights efforts.

Over the next month, PHR chapters in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions will be collaborating on a Regional Advocacy Institute that will take place on November 13 at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The Mid-Atlantic and Southern Institute promises to be an engaging, informative, and exciting event.

The Institute will address a number of topics that are relevant to students: the research and advocacy of PHR, how students can contribute, the resources available to Chapters (like the new Toolkits), and the new online community (everyone in your Chapter should register!). This weekend, the Midwestern Regional Advocacy Institute took place in Chicago, and they covered a lot of the same topics. Chapters from all over the Midwest connected and shared resources, ideas, and plans.

For me, the most prominent issue is Health and Human Rights Education (HHRE), which Jake already identified as our number one priority for the year. We need to identify ways to implement HHRE, provide support for our chapter leaders as they spearhead curricular initiatives, and ultimately come up with an evidence base for the importance of HHRE in medical education.

HHRE initiatives could range from health and human rights electives (something that we are currently implementing at my school, as part of the preclinical public health course) to colloquia on human rights and justice issues as they pertain to health. Health and human rights issues could also be incorporated into academic inquiry – as medical students, our research, whether basic sciences, translational, clinical, public health, or something else, would only be enriched by an awareness and understanding of human rights issues. I could go on ad infinitum about the benefits of HHRE, but I’ll end for now.

At the Institute, I look forward to collaborating with other Mid-Atlantic and Southern chapters, and working with fellow SABer Mona Singh at VCU College of Medicine, to bring the goals of National Student Program in alignment with those of our individual chapters.

Keep on fighting the good fight!

Whether you’re new to PHR or a seasoned veteran, the PHR Regional Advocacy Institute will offer you something new to take home and use in your community, chapter, or on your campus. We’re still putting together the final details, but have many things figured out that should make for a great day.

To start the morning, we will introduce you to PHR and give you a background for understanding the organization. As unnecessary as this may seem, it is important that members of PHR—every one of us scattered across the country in our chapters—understand what the organization stands for and where it hopes to go in the future. Without a basic understanding of the goals and directives of the organization, recruitment into your chapters can be quite difficult. We want to show you what PHR is all about: we will delve into the role, mission, and impact of PHR and give a brief overview of current investigations.

As we move along in the Institute, you’ll have opportunities to discuss things that have worked for you—chapter leaders—over the course of the last several years. What are the best ways to recruit? How can you manage fundraising? How do you incorporate national initiatives into your local chapter’s goals?   What activities or advocacy efforts have you supported? We will take some time to go over chapter management, advocacy planning, and relating national goals to a local effort. Additionally, we’ll take some time to walk through the student toolkits available for chapters at http://phrtoolkits.org/toolkits/student-chapter-toolkit/.

More than anything, the RAI is an important way to keep abreast of the things going on at PHR National and serves as great way to learn how PHR can support your local chapter. After all, we are all working towards the same goals, even if we make it there using different paths. The benefits of being involved with PHR national include having the support of a larger organization behind any one of your efforts. Come learn how to capitalize on that!

We will anchor the afternoon with a keynote speaker discussing taking action on one of PHR’s advocacy goals. We’re still awaiting official confirmation of the speaker, so keep your eyes and ears tuned to this blog for the formal announcement.

As we plan for the Regional Advocacy Institute in Chicago, we’ve got you in mind!  Let us know if there’s a subject you’re interested in learning more about, and we can see where it would fit in. Above all, we hope to bring together a fantastic group of people for great discussion, planning, and networking throughout the day.

We hope to see you in Chicago!

Welcome – or welcome back – to PHR! I hope that you have had satisfying and safe summers, and that you’re returning to school or starting your next adventure renewed and ready to go. This summer the PHR National Student Program has been busy developing materials and planning events for you to use this year.

Attend a Regional Advocacy Institute

Regional Advocacy Institutes are free day-long workshops where you will meet other PHR chapters, learn about PHR’s work and develop the advocacy skills you need to work alongside PHR to demand health, dignity and justice. We’re pleased to announce the dates and locations of this fall’s Institutes:

  • October 23, 2010 in Chicago, IL
  • November 13, 2010 in Baltimore, MD
  • December 4, 2010 in Boston, MA

I’ll soon email you to invite you to sign up. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with other students and develop your ability to advocate for health and human rights.

Visit our new website for new tools

Today, we’re launching a new website to make it easy to use the resources we develop for you. You’ll find a new Student Chapter Toolkit to help you establish and manage your Chapter, materials to recruit new members, reports about PHR’s human rights research, and ideas for events, actions, and advocacy.

Create your profile and register your chapter

You may have already created or updated your profile and registered your Chapter. Chapters must register every year. If so – thank you! If not – here’s your chance! Registration allows you to connect with other students, residents, and faculty, to share ideas and resources. Update your profile to tell the community more about you.

Start a new Chapter

If you’re interested in starting a new Chapter, please register and let us know! I will also host Chapter Development sessions to meet students interested in starting new Chapters in Seattle, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. Let me know if you’re interested!

Get ready for a National Action

Three times a year, Chapters coordinate their advocacy on a single urgent issue, such as last April’s Global Health Week of Action. PHR Chapters, residents, young health professionals, and faculty join together to raise awareness on their campus and lead targeted advocacy. It’s a powerful way to get our legislators’ attention. The first National Action will take place this October – look for information soon!

In the year ahead, please use the PHR National Student Program resources and community for whatever cause or campaign that appeals to you personally and professionally.

Less than two weeks until the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regional Institutes on Saturday, November 7 — there is still time to register! You can register up until the night before, but we prefer that you do so as soon as possible to help us better prepare and provide the best Institute experience possible.

Help make sure we get a great crowd by inviting all of your friends who may be interested, via email or our Facebook group!

Here is some key information to help you prepare to for the Institutes:

Mid-Atlantic Institute (Washington DC)

The Mid-Atlantic Institute will take place in Ross Hall, 2300 Eye Street, at George Washington University. Make sure you’re there by 10:00am to hear the opening presenter, Leonard Rubenstein, JD, Visiting Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for Human Rights and Public Health and former President of PHR!

Northeast Institute (Boston, MA)

The Northeast Institute will take place by the Tosteson Medical Education Center (TMEC) at Harvard Medical School. Make sure you’re there by 10:00am to hear the opening presenter, Helen Potts, PHR’s Chief Health Program Officer and former Senior Research Officer UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health.

I also want to personally introduce the amazing Regional Training Coordinators, who made these Institutes possible and are a great resource to those who will attend:

  • Regan Gage, George Washington University (M3). Regan has been actively involved with PHR since she began medical school in 2007and is also a part of the national leadership of Medical Students for Choice, a group working to preserve women’s reproductive rights. Her interests lie in advancing sex education and healthcare in the adolescent Latino and immigrant community
  • Alexandra Coria, Dartmouth Medical School (M2). Alexandra is planning to pursue a career in pediatric infectious disease. Prior to medical school, she worked for three years as a consultant on high-level communications and advocacy surrounding global health issues, particularly focusing on malaria, childhood pneumonia and meningitis, and vaccine science and financing.

If you have more questions about getting to DC or Boston, or need further location-specific advice, contact me and I will put you in touch with one of these great coordinators.

See you there!

With just about a month away, we have some exciting presenter updates for the November 7 Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regional Institutes, along with logistical information and publicity materials.

Don’t forget to register for your region’s Institute!

Mid-Atlantic Institute (Washington DC)

We are excited to welcome our newest afternoon session panelist on Health and Human Rights Education: Steve Hansch, Adjunct Professor from American University School of International Service, former President of Cuny Center for the Study of Societies in Crisis. Steve has extensive experience in developing, managing and evaluating projects associated with humanitarian field operations, including health, nutrition, and economic analyses in Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Sudan, and Somalia. Now a professor, he is excited to share his analysis of the importance of health and human rights education and ideas for incorporating such education in your academics.

Northeast Institute (Boston, MA)

The Northeast Regional Institute will be closed by our newest presenter, Sondra Crosby, MD, Assistant Professor at BU School of Medicine, former Director of Medical Services at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. With experience in examining almost 300 survivors of torture, providing instruction to health care professionals on caring for survivors of torture, and serving as a clinical evaluator in a number of human rights investigations, Dr. Crosby is excited to share her knowledge and advice about fusing a passion for human rights with your profession.

Help make sure we get a great crowd by inviting all of your friends who may be interested, via email or our Facebook group!

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about the Institutes’ program or getting to DC or Boston.

With the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regional Advocacy Institutes just over a month away, here are some updates on the Institutes’ programs, logistics, and publicity. As you get ready for your region’s Institute, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. And don’t forget to register for your Regional Advocacy Institute!


Mid-Atlantic Regional Institute

Hosted by PHR and the George Washington University Student Chapter
Saturday, November 7
th 9:30am-4:30pm
George Washington University, Washington DC
(Directions)

Presenter Update: Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD, Visiting Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for Human Rights and Public Health, was just confirmed to open the Institute with a session on “Advancing Human Rights in Health Practice.” Read about Leonard’s groundbreaking work on a variety of health and human rights fronts. Check out this Institute’s working agenda to learn more about this educational and engaging day.

Getting to George Washington University: Download information on how to get to Washington, DC, navigate the campus, and invite your friends to the Institute.

Help Us Publicize: With the team of PHR staff and student leaders working to provide a top-notch program, we now need your help to make the training a lively, rewarding experience. Help Publicize the institute to friends, colleagues and classmates:

Read our Recruitment Plan and Tips. Remember that recruiting more students to attend the Institute also helps you to recruit new chapter members, build a presence on campus, reach out to other campus groups, boost chapter members’ enthusiasm and involvement, and ensure your chapter members receive great training.


Northeast Regional Institute

Hosted by PHR and the Harvard Student Chapter
Saturday, November 7
th, 9:30am-4:30pm
Harvard Medical School, Boston MA
(Directions)

Presenter Update: Physicians for Human Rights’ CEO Frank Donaghue will open the day’s events. Read about Frank’s three decades of experience in the non-profit sector including his extensive work with the American Red Cross before coming to PHR. Helen Potts, PHR’s Chief Health Program Officer, will lead a session that will take attendees through a critical analysis of what the Right to Health means and how it should be applied to the health profession. Learn more about her landmark work as the Senior Research Officer to Paul Hunt, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and check out this Institute’s working agenda.

Getting to Harvard Medical School: Download information on how to get to Boston, navigate the campus, and invite your friends to the Institute.

Help Us Publicize: With the team of PHR staff and student leaders working to provide a top-notch program, we now need your help to make the training a lively, rewarding experience. Help Publicize the institute to friends, colleagues and classmates:

Read our Recruitment Plan and Tips. Remember that recruiting more students to attend the Institute also helps you to recruit new chapter members, build a presence on campus, reach out to other campus groups, boost chapter members’ enthusiasm and involvement, and ensure your chapter members receive great training.

Less than two weeks until the South and Midwest Regional Institutes on Saturday, September 26 — there is still time to register! You can register up until the night before, but we prefer that you do so as soon as possible to help us better prepare and provide the best Institute experience possible.

Help make sure we get a great crowd by inviting all of your friends who may be interested, via email or our Facebook group!

Here is some key information to help you prepare to for the Institutes:

Midwest Institute (Chicago, IL)

The Midwest Institute will take place in the Armour Academic Center at Rush University. Make sure you’re there by 10:15am to hear the opening presenter, University of Chicago’s Dr. Ken Fox, Senior Staff Physician and Professor of Pediatrics!

South Institute (Nashville, TN)

The South Institute will take place in the West Basic Sciences Building (WBS) at Meharry Medical School. Make sure you’re there by 9:15am to hear the opening presenter, Dr. Joseph Interrante, CEO of Nashville Cares!

I also want to personally introduce the amazing Regional Training Coordinators, who made these Institutes possible and are a great resource to those who will attend:

  • Shaheja Sitafawalla, MPH, Rush University (M1). Shaheja spent this past summer working as co-coordinator of a sanitation education project in rural, western Kenya.
  • Nia Imani Bodrick, MPH, Meharry Medical School (M3). Nia’s interest in health and human rights began when she worked as an intern at Advocates for Youth, focusing on adolescent reproductive and sexual health.

If you have more questions about getting to Chicago or Nashville, or need further area-specific advice, contact me and I will put you in touch with one of these great coordinators.

See you there!