April 7, 2014
They may be thousands of miles apart, but students and professors at the University of Virginia have teamed up with students and professors at a university in Uganda to help each other learn about medicine.
Telemedicine is a video conferencing system initially intended to connect patients throughout Virginia with doctors and nurses at UVa.
"We can use it for follow up for patients to save them for long trips. It's roughly a seven hour drive from the most remote part of Virginia to Charlottesville," said Professor Emeritus Peyton Taylor.
Now the connection within the Commonwealth is spanning across the globe, connecting UVa. to Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Uganda.
"The students like interacting with each other. The Ugandans like interacting with our UVa graduates, and our residents like interacting with the Ugandans," says Assistant Professor Chris Moore.
The collaboration between the two schools began in 2007. Over the years students have traveled between the universities, but it was only last year that they began the video-conferences. The technology is helping both UVa. and MUST expand their education, research and even their clinical practices.
"If we have an unusual tropical medicine case here, or if they have a hematology case, or some other case where we have expertise we can apply that expertise digitally," Moore said.
Monday marked MUST's vice chancellors' first visit to UVa. He says the collaboration encourages students at his university to strive.
"If a young resident in Africa is able to exchange information with an expert in the USA to help them to solve a problem that is the best way to motivate them," Frederick Kayanja said.
Through telemedicine, the classroom to classroom connection has expanded beyond medicine. Professors of African and religious studies have also become part of the exchange.