MHA students volunteer at Tanzania hospital

Mona Rath | March 28, 2016
Tanzania Jensen and Plooster
Anne Jensen, MHA ‘17 and Danny Plooster, MHA ’17 pose with the children of Kikoti, the local hospital administrator, after dinner at his home.

Over winter break, MHA students Anne Jensen and Danny Plooster traveled to Iringa, Tanzania to volunteer and learn at Illula Lutheran Hospital. They came away with an unforgettable life experience and a new perspective on health care.

Simply seeing how important Illula’s hospital administrator, Kikoti, was to the community was a meaningful cultural lesson.

“Everyone respected him so much because he respected them. I could feel his connection to the community he served. His leadership in the hospital setting and beyond was remarkable,” says Plooster.

Jensen and Plooster spent five weeks developing a data management system to transfer 35,000 medical records from paper to electronic format. Currently the hospital has five operating computers and struggles with intermittent power outages. The students established a master list and protocol for staff to enter data by the end of 2016.

The students’ preceptor was alumni Cindy Wilke, MHA ‘86. Wilke is founder and director of Global Health Administration Partners, the consulting arm of the charitable organization Global Health Ministries.

She founded the GHAP program in 2007 after traveling to Tanzania on a mission trip and concluding that healthcare administrators could play a large a role in serving global communities in need.

The program recruits administrators to consult at hospitals around the world and aims to “build a worldwide network of health administrators dedicated to creating, supporting and maintaining sustainable faith-based health facilities.” The success of the program led to the idea of involving MHA students, which came to fruition with this winter’s trip.

The MHA students were joined by a larger group, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, which included healthcare professionals from across the Twin Cities and other students from the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center. This provided a valuable interprofessional experience.

“I better understand global health as well as interprofessional teams. Honestly, my time with the clinicians and clinical professors was the most valuable. How they think about and discuss clinical cases will remain with me for a long time,” remarks Plooster.

The students enjoyed experiences both within the hospital and beyond it, whether playing soccer with local nursing students, attending church with the community, or joining a safari trip.

Jensen and Plooster hope more students will take advantage of this unique global health opportunity in the future.

“We’ve built a strong relationship with both GHAP and Shoulder-to-Shoulder. The trip was a great success.”

~ Luke McKee, MHA ’17

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